Love Shoot: Halley + Chad

Often times, I come into my clients' lives amidst a sea of chaos and change: graduations, studying for the bar exam followed by taking the bar exam, wedding planning, showers, rehearsals, and—not to mention—starting a new life together. Despite the whirlwind of to-do's, these two are incredibly at ease. 'Tis the season of life! I look forward to celebrating with you in August... until then—remember to breathe! 0002001100190022003600400052

Down the Aisle: Amanda + Chelsea

I first met Chelsea years ago when I had the honor of creating her senior portraits, and to hear that she was planning a wedding made me feel as excited as it did old!  (Where has the time gone anyway?) Mother nature smiled on us last Friday as we captured these portraits in the gorgeous light of the setting sun...


A frame and two adorable flower girls are like frosting on the cake, making any image that much sweeter...


Chelsea nailed the schedule for the day, and we reaped the benefits with this light...


The kids! So sweet, so helpful, so eager to be part of the fun...


Congratulations ladies... I'm so thrilled to be part of your day!

Get This Book and Learn to Use Your Camera. Finally.

Whether you have a shiny new camera or an old battle scared one, learning how to use it (I mean really use it, not just crossing your fingers and shooting in auto-mode) is guaranteed to change your entire photo-taking life. Going from snapshots to great shots is a whole lot easier when you have some help. And it just so happens that Peachpit Press has a whole series of books to help you do just that—literally. A couple years ago I wrote Your Camera Loves You: Learn to Love it Back. I'm proud that it's been repackaged to fit within the Snapshots to Great Shots series, featuring the new title, Getting Started in Digital Photography.

Same great content, apt new title. (And cover). Yes, that's my adorable nephew and brother-in-law on the cover. Aren't they cute?

Get it. Love it. (Then—for bonus points, write a review about it. Emir loves to track that stuff, and it's sad to see a book with little to no reviews! ;)

Happy picture making!


Getting Started in Digital Photography

Favorite 2013 Wedding Moments

Few things remind you how much you love doing what you do, like taking some time off. I made the decision to keep the fall/winter months of 2013 to myself, and it has recharged my batteries—big time.  Now that 2014 is upon us, I can't wait to dive into another great season spent documenting ceremonies of love and the beginnings of new families. In celebration of that, here's a look back at some of my favorite wedding photo moments (in random order) from 2013.


Tech Help: Missing Airplay Icon

After milking the last drop of usefulness from my old MacBook Pro, I finally bit the bullet and upgraded to a new (Retina) model. One of the things I was most looking forward to was the ability to restore balance to Emir's AppleTV access from his MacBook Air (my old MacBook was too old to support AirPlay). After migration was complete, I was super bummed to discover a missing AirPlay icon. Was Mavericks buggy? Was I an idiot? Countless web searches revealed similar problems but surprisingly, somehow, I couldn't find the solution. (I could still stream via AirPlay, but only  by manually manipulating my Display Preferences, not via the shortcut icon.)

"Call Apple Support" was on my to-do list for weeks. I finally bumped it to the top of the list. Turns out, the solution was embarassingly simple, and I had been painfully close to discovering it on my own, but had always had both settings set to the affirmative, and that was the problem.

Counterintuitively, the trick is to leave "AirPlay Display" set to off, while turning "Show Mirroring Options" on. Am I the only one who missed this? Why wasn't it set on by default? (Maybe due to migrating from a non-AirPlay enabled MacBook?)

Either way, if you find this helpful—you're welcome. :)airplay

Gone Fishing!

I've been busy putting my winter break to good use. Brushing up on my sewing skills, I had a ball putting together this darling gift idea for the kids in my life. I was originally inspired by this paper and string version, but wanted something a little more hearty that would last longer with regular use. I also felt like "hooks" may be too sharp and too tricky for the little ones to manipulate, so I opted to go with magnets instead. I cranked out four of these sets in a couple of days, so making a single set should be a piece of cake! Magnetic fish, fishing pole, and drawstring bag

Several friends have asked for a tutorial, so without further ado, here it is!


  • Pattern. Download a printable PDF I made of the fish and fish mouth shapes. Be sure to print at 100% (don't scale).
  • Fabric. I used several packs of fat quarters for variety. Each fat quarter makes 8 fronts and backs (that's four (4) fish), so get as many fat quarters as you want variety. Because I made ten (10) fish for each gift set, I used 10 different fat quarters because I wanted each one to be different. You'll also need a 1/2 yard of something fun for the drawstring bag. Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 1.37.55 PM
  • Stuffing. The fish are only minimally stuffed. I used polyfill I had laying around, but you could also use paper, fabric scraps, plastic bags, etc.
  • Magnets. I used 1/2-inch round magnets bought at JoAnn's Craft Store. They come in packs of 50. You'll need one for each fish and one for the end of the fishing pole.
  • Yarn, ribbon, or other cording. I used yard on the fishing pole and though the photo shows cording on the draw string bag, I ended up switching to yard because the cording I bought was too thick to double back for a drawstring. You could also use ribbon. Total length needed? Maybe 3 yards, just to be safe....
  • Wooden dowel. Dowels come in various diameters, I used a 1/2-inch. Anything less seems a bit too wimpy....
  • Wooden doll pin. This is the cute little bobber that hangs at the bottom of the fishing line (painted red in the photo above). I found this in the aisle right along the dowels. Who doesn't want a bobber that resembles a tiny wooden doll?
  • Wooden ball caps (x2). Not sure what these are called, but these are the round balls you see on the ends of the fishing pole. I bought two for each pole (one on each end). They come with a 1/2-inch hole already drilled in them so it's easy to just glue them onto the ends of the dowel. pinplain
  • Eye hooks (aka: Screw Eyes). This is what allows you to connect the doll pin to the end of the fishing line. I bought tiny ones with 1/2-inch long screws. screweyes
  • Crazy glue (or other adhesive). You'll need to glue the magnet to the bottom of the doll pin, as well as glue the wooden ball caps to the ends of the fishing pole.
  • Sewing machine and other related materials (thread, scissors, pinking shears, etc.)
  • Paint & paint brush. I used regular latex wall-paint that I had around the house from other projects. If you're out of paint, sample pots from places like Home Depot are an inexpensive way to build up a colorful collection.
  • Drill (optional). I drilled through my fishing pole to attach the yarn. Alternatively you could wrap the yard around it (and glue in place for stability) or screw in one of the eye hooks and attach the yarn that way.

Making the Fish

  1. Cut out all your fish and mouth shapes. (Use regular scissors, save the pinking for last.) fishfishmouths
  2. Pin and sew all the mouth pieces. Starting at the bottom corner, work your way around to the other bottom corner. Leave the bottom open. Use 1/4" (or less if you can pull it off) seam allowance. If you err on the side of a bigger seam allowance, you won't be able to insert the magnet later, so definitely stick to 1/4" or smaller. sewmouth
  3. Insert the magnets into the fish mouths. If you stuck to a 1/4" seam allowance or smaller, the magnets should all fit pretty well. If you goofed on some, cut more pieces and try again.
  4. Prepare the fish. Pin wrong sides together  so that the fish appears right sides out (I top stitched everything so as not to have to mess with turning and hand-finishing the edges, so no need to pin inside out). Insert and pin the mouth in place by slipping it between the front and back side of the fish fabric.
  5. Sew the fish. Starting on the outside edge of the tail, sew (top stitch) around the entire perimeter using a 1/4" seam allowance. This will close the backside of the mouth, locking the magnet in place. Stop when you reach the other outside edge of the tail. (Do not sew the tail closed.)fishsew
  6. Stuff and close the fish. Insert the stuffing via the open end of the fish tail and work it around so the fish has some body, but is not "full." When finished, take the fish back to the sewing machine and top stitch the tail closed with the same 1/4" seam allowance.
  7. Finishing touches. Snip any hanging threads and if desired, use pinking shears to trim the edges and avoid fraying.

Making the Fishing Pole

  1. Drill a hole through the center of the dowel, 1" from the end. Make sure to use a drill bit that will make a hole large enough to accommodate whatever you plan to use for the fishing line. To steady the dowel, I used a clamp to attach it securely to the counter top, leaving just the edge of the pole extended past the counter for drilling. It was simple enough I'm guessing you could just hand hold it against a steady surface.
  2. Insert the eye screw into the top of the doll pin (no drill required). I found it easiest to grasp the eye pin with the end of needle nose pliers in my non-dominant hand, then use my other hand to firmly press/screw in the doll pin. It takes some elbow grease, but you definitely don't need a drill. pliers
  3. Paint! Paint the dowel, the doll pin, and the wooden ball caps. Experiment with color pairing to find what you like best. (I painted the ball caps and the doll pin one color, and painted a contrasting color for the fishing pole itself.) When finished, I hung everything to dry by tack nailing them to the edge of the work bench counter top. Let dry for several hours (or even overnight). dollpinsphoto-1
  4. Get your glue on. Glue the wooden ball caps to the ends of the fishing pole and the magnet to the end of the doll pin. Be sure to use a strong, permanent adhesive.
  5. Thread the fishing pole. To get my yarn through the tiny hole I made with the drill, I used a flossing threader to pull the yarn through. (You could also use some thread or most any string.) Tie a knot big enough to not slip through the hole. (I used a simple double-knot.) thread
  6. Thread and attach the doll pin (aka: the bobber). Tie the other end of the yarn to the doll pin. The longer you leave the fishing line, the more challenging it will be for users. If you're making this for little kids, shorter is better. I ended up having the bottom of the bobber (the doll pin) land slightly below the half-way point on the dowel. A simple double knot will do. length

Making the Drawstring Bag

I followed along with this quick and easy drawstring bag tutorial. I made the middle sized bag, using a 12x24" rectangle. When it came time to make the gussets, I opted for only 1.25". Originally, I bought cording to use for the drawstring instead of yarn, but forgot that it gets doubled around the bag, and didn't have enough room in the channel for it. Live and learn, right?

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 1.37.35 PM

I'd love to see anything you make using this tutorial! Please share the love! :) Happy fishing!

Making an Instagram Book Just Got Easier

There are a billion ways to turn your Instagram images into books. Some are easier or more convenient than others, but if you're a control freak, you like things done a certain way. So awhile ago I wrote a big ol' post about exactly how to turn your instagram photos into a book, and have used the process to make four volumes of books containing roughly 1000 instagrammed images. They are awesome (if I do say so myself). Here's a photo of all four books: insta01

(They're made by Blurb. You can use this link to save $20 on your own bit of blurb/instagram awesomeness.)

The only part of the process that I've been less than 100% satisfied with is collecting the Instagrammed images. Up until now, I've been downloading my entire archive (from InstaArchive), then separating the photos that I've added since making my last book so I can include the newer ones in the new book. Not a huge pain, but not as convenient as it seems like it should be.

Happily, I've since discovered the IfThisThenThat website. It allows you to set up what they call "recipes" which are like little formulas that can do awesome things—like archive your own Instagram photos for you. In my case, I set it up so that every time I post a new image to Instagram, my IFTTT recipe will grab the photo and put a copy of it in a designated DropBox folder for me. Score! My set up looks like this:


Now, every time I'm ready to make a new book (I do so about every 250 images), I don't have to sift through my whole archive to find the new stuff. I just download them from my DropBox! When I'm done, I empty the DropBox folder, and I'm all set to start shoot for my next  book!

For the step-by-step on the whole process, check out my earlier post.

Have fun!

Down the Aisle: Jaime + James

Every wedding I have the opportunity to photograph reminds me how magical it all is. I remember when I was a kid, I thought that my parents just sort of always existed together as a package deal. Like, they arrived on Earth together for the soul purpose of being our mom and dad. Oddly enough, I can pinpoint the precise moment when it dawned on me that they actually, at one point, had totally separate lives, which they chose to join together in order to become what is now our family. Like I said, pure magic.

Here's to the beginning of a new family—congrats to Jaime & James!

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Down the Aisle: Jared + Leigh

Emir and I had the honor of photographing Jared's brother's wedding four years ago in Denver, and we always hoped that when the time was right, we'd be invited back to capture another historic Bakewell celebration. This time, the scene took place in Omaha, but the atmosphere was just as festive. Jared and Leigh and both their families have a special connection that makes it easy to see why they're all so close. We were honored to be part of their magic for another day. :)

This was when Jared saw Leigh for the first time and exclaimed, "A perfect 10!"

Both the ceremony and reception took place at the Scoular Ballroom where this black and white striped runner set the scene.

During cocktail hour we snuck away for a few more couple portraits...

After years as a bartender, Jared knew exactly how to put together the perfect signature cocktail.

Rather than a sit down dinner, guests were treated to a variety of food stations including a couple that were devoted to fries and mac-and-cheese! Needless to say, it was a huge hit!

Congrats to you all! xoxoxo

Down the Aisle: Megan + Joe

Some couples do a "first look." Megan and Joe did what I'm referring to as a "first tease." They didn't want to see each other before the ceremony, but they did want photos together, just separated somehow so they couldn't see each other while reading the cards they wrote for each other. Positioned on either side of a tree, we pulled it off. How sweet it was! :)

I love the look on Joe's face here—he was all smiles all day long!

After the ceremony, we were able to photograph the two of them together... no tree. :)

Congrats to you all! xoxoxo