Weddings by MJ

Wedding Faves 2009

I wanted to share one more blog post with you to wrap up 2009. Like I mentioned in my last post, I shot 15 amazing weddings this year. Looking back at each of these unique weddings, I picked out my favorite images from 2009. The following 40 images (in no particular order) resulted from a quick pick on my part, based on how each photo made me feel. These are my personal favorites. But I'd love to know what you think! Leave a comment but more importantly make sure to vote for your faves by clicking on the star icon under the ones you like. To see the results of the vote, click on "portfolio" then "blog favorites" above.









































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2009 Year in Review

What an amazing year 2009 has been! It has definitely been a tough year for me in many ways. I have experienced some profound losses. But I have also been filled to overflowing with blessings. This year I shot 15 amazing weddings and have developed some incredible memories and relationships along the way. In this post I am going to share 10 of my favorite "happenings" from 2009 in the order in which they occurred.

1. The year of the websites

I can't hardly believe this but I have developed FOUR websites for my business this year!! CRAZY. I started out in January by launching my MJ 2 Day workshop site, then in February my Photojunction Templates found a home of their own on Both of these sites were designed and built by me using ShowIt Sites software. In March my Fine Art Website was launched (by and then in December I launched my new wedding website/blog combo (by Infinet Design). Phew. No wonder I'm exhausted. I think I'm going to take a break from developing websites this next year and just enjoy where these four are taking me. I just want to give a shout out to God for blessing my business so much this year and continuing to direct my path.

2. First AND second MJ 2 Day workshops

In May I held my very first MJ 2 Day workshop for a group of 12 photographers who were in the first couple years of their businesses. We spent two days together talking about business and photography related topics as well as doing some shooting on location. Then in October I did it again with a second group of amazing photographers. I loved every second of interacting with and getting to know the attendees from around the US and Canada. I really get jazzed about sharing information and seeing the light bulb go on for other people. I feel like teaching workshops and coaching other photographers is definitely a niche for me and I can't wait to do it more in the future! My next MJ 2 Day workshop is coming up in April and there are still spots open so make sure to claim yours today!

3. My second trip to Hawaii

In June I took my second trip to Hawaii and if you can believe it, I think I enjoyed it even more than the first! While there I shot an engagement shoot, a wedding and a day after shoot. I also was able to take a few days to just relax. I've found that working from home has some great advantages, but sometimes it can be difficult to fully relax. My office is downstairs and it's so tempting to get just a few more things done. There were two trips I took this year that were SO relaxing and this was one of them for me. I loved the time I spent with my friends Sarah & Jason and I love that I ran into some past clients and was able to go to dinner with them. I loved drinking a pina colada each day and living without a schedule. I have such great memories from this trip that I will always cherish.

4. Africa

My trip to Africa was unbelievable. It came right on the heals of the suicide of my aunt so emotionally, it was very difficult for me to process. But it was an amazing experience and I'm still in awe of what I saw. I travelled with Mike Colon, Jim Davis-Hicks, and 13 other amazing photographers to Tanzania. We did a two day fashion shoot of designer gowns on location in Tanzania to benefit Thirst Relief International. We also helped to build and deliver life saving Thirst Relief Bio-Sand Water Filters to those who don't have clean water sources. In addition we were able to see some of the most beautiful wildlife on the planet on an African Safari! I'm excited to report that Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine will be featuring the whole trip in her Spring/Summer 2010 issue that will be coming out very soon! Click on some of the links below to read more about my trip and see some fabulous photos!

Headed to Africa!
Hope at a Tanzanian Orphanage
Bagamoyo Tanzania
Getting Our Hands Dirty
Delivering Life-Saving Water Filters
Cute Tanzanian Orphans
Accommodations & Transportation
Trees on Safari
Tanzanian Safari Part 1
Tanzanian Safari Part 2


This year I read nearly 50 books. And none of them were business-related. I've done a lot of reading for my business and used to feel like I needed to be reading something that would help me better myself at all times. But this year I let that compulsion go and read purely for pleasure. Mostly brainless fiction with some classics mixed in. I joined a book club, signed up on and found myself just reading like crazy. I read for a number of reasons. I read so I could sleep. My brain doesn't like to shut off at night so I need to read something with a story to it that will trick my brain into ceasing from attempting to solve the world's problems. I also read to process life. Coming off the summer I found myself emotionally exhausted and my introvert side reared its head in a major way. I found that reading was a way for me to process through my emotions and it became very healing for me. If you're a reader sign up on Goodreads and look me up!

6. Trip to Nebraska

My trip to visit my grandparents on their farm in Nebraska in September was the other totally relaxing trip I took this year. Being in the country was like traveling to another world. Time slowed down. I went for runs on dirt roads, ate pancakes for breakfast, road a four wheeler through some pastures and had some amazing quality time with two people I really cherish.

7. 3rd Annual Walk for Autism

In November I walked with my team of 21 for the 3rd year in a row to raise money to help find the cause and cure for Autism. My two nephews both have Autism and raising awareness for this epidemic continues to be a growing passion of mine. This year for the first time we had team shirts! Once again I just loved the feeling of empowerment and community that I got from this experience. I want to thank my friend Kindra for coming along this year and writing an amazingly touching story about my family that helped me raise awareness and funds. Can't wait to do it again next year!

8. Pictage Partner Conference

In November I travelled to New Orleans for Pictage's Annual Partner Conference. This was my first visit to New Orleans and I had a blast! I also have to say that Pictage's Conference is the best photography conference that I've ever experienced. The speakers are so generous in sharing their information and helping others out. While there I spoke about my "Top 3 Keys to Long-Term Success." I also got to hang out with old friends and make many new ones. Thanks to Pictage for this great opportunity and for having me! What a great experience!

9. Finishing my 101 in 1001 list

In February of 2007 I started a huge challenge of completing 101 goals in 1001 days. My endeavor wrapped up in November of this year. I really lost some steam this year and only completed 6 of my goals. But they were big ones. Looking back I am SO glad that I took this challenge and feel like I was able to accomplish so much more than I would have without it. If you'd like to see my list and which goals I was able to finish, click here!

10. Developing Friendships

One of my favorite things that happened this year was the development of some amazing friendships. Looking back on my blog I just feel SO BLESSED that I got to meet and spend time with so many incredible people. Investing in people is one of the most powerful things I can do with my time and in this way 2009 has been a tremendous success. I've been in the wedding industry for 6 years now and have been investing consistently in people over the course of this time. This year I can really see the roots of that investment blossoming and bearing fruit. I am SO enjoying the friendships I have within the industry with other photographers, coordinators and vendors. Some of my relationships with clients have developed into cherished friendships. And I continue to hold dear friends who are not in the industry at all and have loved on me since before I became a photographer. I know I sound so "gushy" right now but I am truly touched by the blessing of friendship in my life. What an amazing year it's been.

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top 12 of 2009

In a few days it will be 2010. How crazy is that?

I love this time of year. It's a great time to reflect back. Even though it seems like time has FLOWN by, when I sit down and go through my blog archives, I am amazed at how much has been PACKED into one short year.

One thing I like to do this time of year as part of my reflection is to tally which posts my readers have commented on the most. It's really enlightening to see what provokes the biggest response from you. What I've learned about you this year is... You are a compassionate bunch (three of the top posts involve some pretty sad losses -- thanks for the love!). You are mostly photographers and love tips; lots of tips. You are easily provoked by a post title with the word "butt" in it. You like cute dogs in sweaters. And you enjoy posts where I reveal what a dork I am. I'm a quick learner so I have resolved that all of my 2010 blog posts will either include something sad, a photography tip, the word "butt" in the title, cute dogs in sweaters or humiliating self-revelations. In fact, how cool would it be to try to write a post that covers all five? Now THAT would be a post for the comment record books.

In past years I've shared my top 10 commented on posts. This year I'm going to share 12. The reasons are two-fold: Since three of the top 10 were kinda sad this year, I wanted to include #11 & 12 because they strike a lighter note. Also, #11 & 12 tied for 11th place and only came in one comment behind 10th place. So I thought they deserved honorable mention.

1. Sad News
2. Behind the Image - Flare
3. New Website & Blog
4. F.A.Q. -- Detail Shots
5. I Said "Butt" on Live TV
6. Pray for Peter
7. Just Had to Do It

Tied for 8th place:
8. F.A.Q. -- Reception Lighting: Off-Camera Flash
8. Celebrating Beth Allen's Life

10. David & Katie

Tied for 11th place:
11. Lesson Learned...
11. Nerd Alert

Thank you all so much for reading and commenting on my blog this year!! I love hearing from you!

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Brian & Heather's Engagement Shoot

Brian & Heather met and started dating while living in New York City. Brian got a job and moved to San Francisco but their relationship was strong enough to endure the distance. They talked of their desire to get a dog and even settled on what kind they wanted -- a Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier/Standard Poodle Mix: a Whoodle. One weekend Brian flew out to NYC to visit Heather and asked her to meet him in Central Park for lunch. When she arrived, she was met with a hug, a ring and a puppy: the perfect proposal!

Since then, Heather got a job and joined Brian in San Francisco. With Heather's family here in Arizona and other family and friends spread throughout the nation, they are planning their April wedding in Scottsdale. They were here for Christmas and I was thrilled to meet up with them and their puppy Toby for their engagement shoot!

We started off the shoot at McCormick Railroad Park in Scottsdale. They wanted a park setting that would be reminiscent of Central Park. Of course we don't have anything THAT amazing in Arizona but this park at least had decent-sized trees. I fell in love with this spot and with the leaves and lighting, I could have shot there all day.

Toby is only 4 months old but he is the most calm, well-behaved dog I've ever shot. Most of the time dogs are like working with children but I didn't have to do much coaxing to get great shots with Toby. Like I mentioned, he's a Whoodle, but I swear he is also part teddy bear. I couldn't help talking to him in my you're-one-of-the-cutest-things-I've-ever-seen-doggie-voice the whole time.

Ya -- he really just sat there like that.

Such a cute family:

SO sweet.

I love how snuggly this one is:

For the second part of the shoot we headed down the road to Kierland Commons -- an outdoor mall in Scottsdale -- where I got some shots of just Heather and Brian. These doors provided some fun color and made this shot feel very Christmas-y.

Love these:

Thanks Brian & Heather! I can't wait for your wedding!

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merry Christmas

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