dancing with the stars

Those of you who know me know that I am a bit of a reality TV fiend. It's good stuff. And I love dancing. If I were to do life over and I couldn't be a photographer, I would want to be a dancer.

As one of my Christmas presents, my parents got tickets for me and a friend to go see the Dancing With The Stars Live Tour and it was tonight! My friend Shannon begged me to bring her and I think she was possibly twice as excited as I was to go, which made it fun. Every five minutes she'd remind me of how excited she was :).

Shannon brought her point and shoot and got these shots to document our time. This is the view from our seats:

A cool blurry action shot:

And another:

Now I have to say that the show was fun but a bit of a disappointment in certain aspects. I think our stop on the tour got jipped due to the holidays. A lot of the stars and dancers weren't at this show because they were with family for the holidays. Not kidding you--there were ONLY 3 STARS in the show; 4 if you count Wayne Newton who didn't actually ever dance. The three were Joey Lawrence, Drew Lachey and Sabrina Bryant. Sabrina was definitely the high point of the show. She is amazingly spunky for how small she is.

Now to the low point. As aforementioned, Wayne Newton didn't dance. I suspect he was willing to do the tour but the producers decided that no one really wanted to see him dance so they decided to have him sing. THREE FULL NUMBERS of Wayne Newton singing. The third song was the lowest point -- "Danke Shoen" and he sung it while walking around the floor kissing women who were in the audience on the cheek. This was Shannon's reaction:

And I scored the number:

Very sad. Shannon summed it up nicely by saying, "You must have to have been from another era to appreciate him. Because he's not good." Shannon's really good with words.

So overall it was a fun night. But a little light on the "Star" part of "Dancing with the Stars." And a little heavy on the Wayne Newton.

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Brian & Kate's Engagement shoot

This afternoon I met up with Brian and Kate in downtown Tempe to shoot their engagement photos. They met a year ago New Year's Eve at the Tempe Block Party so this was the perfect place for their session. If Kate looks familiar, that's because she is Kevin's sister and was part of Kevin and Marissa's wedding in November. I was so excited when they booked me for their engagement shoot because I remember how stunning and photogenic Kate looked at the wedding. Anyhow, Brian and Kate had fun with their shoot and we got some great images. Here are a few of my favorites:

How cute are they? Total naturals. Congrats Brian and Kate! I had so much fun hanging out with you today!

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Weddings by MJ

Jim & Mandi

Jim and Mandi got married on Saturday and theirs was my last wedding of 2007! Their wedding was intimate with a lot of family, had a Christmas theme and was held at The Castle at Ashley Manor. I thought Mandi looked so beautiful in the above photo.

We only covered the tail end of the preparation time before the ceremony. I liked this photo of this cute little girl primping in front of the mirror. It's got a great sense of motion:

Mandi's shoes:

Matt Sloan of Sloan Photographers is a great friend of mine and he helped me out that day by being my 2nd shooter. He does such a great job of connecting with kids and making his subjects feel comfortable being photographed. It was fun to have him along and watch him in action. He got these great shots of the guy's side of things. The adorable ring-bearer:

The groom:

A touching moment I caught in the girls' room:

Jim and Mandi saw each other before the ceremony, which I thought was great because not only was it dark after the ceremony, it was fridged! Here's a few of my favorite portraits:

I love capturing photos of the guests arriving before the ceremony begins. I spy on everyone with my long lens and try to capture fun moments as they happen. I love the look between these two:

Mandi breathed deeply the whole way down the isle, trying desperately not to cry.

Everyone found creative ways to stay warm:

The cute ring-bearer waiting for his part:

Mandi had her emotions written all over her face throughout the ceremony--very sweet:

The reception details followed the Christmas theme:

The first-dance:

I love this shot of Mandi and her father dancing:

A Matt Sloan special:

The exit:

And get-away!

I love how this shot turned out. It was pitch-black out but I was able to use my flash and pan with the car to get this effect:

To see more great shots from this wedding, click here to view the slideshow!

Thanks so much Jim and Mandi for allowing me to be a part of your wedding!

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santa doesn't exist

Sorry if this is the first time the news has been broken to you. But I've lived under this reality my whole life. My parents chose not to entertain the illusion of Santa as we were growing up and the bonus was that we got to open all our presents on Christmas Eve!! Woo-hoo! I'm already playing with my toys :).

This Christmas Eve we got together as a family at my sister and Josh's house. Here's their scrawny poor-man's tree with a crazy amount of presents under it. Noah was so excited he kept asking every 2 minutes if we could open presents.

My cute sis doing all the work in the kitchen:

Josh and Elijah hanging out on the couch:

My cute parents and of course, Dixie came along for the festivities:

Noah was so into the presents this year. He handed them out to us and even helped us open ours on occasion.

I quickly lost interest in taking photos and so unfortunately there aren't others of the present opening shananagans. The whole thing kept going and going though.

I made out unbelievably well this year. My mom always goes overboard. I got tickets to see the "Dancing with the Stars" Live show, gift certificates to the spa, perfume, a Fossil purse, and a few other fun trinkets.

After a piece of pecan pie, I promptly fell asleep on the couch. I guess all the merriment took a lot out of me. Here's me and my sis and Josh shortly after I came-to:

Fun times! Hope your time with your families this year is super-special!

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MJ's Camera Bag


Merry Christmas

Tears are falling
Hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised
We've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child.

I hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
The long awaited Holy Stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home.

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world.

Fragile fingers sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born.

So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world.

(lyrics from my favoritest Christmas song -- Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice)

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