Announcing my fine art website!!

I'm so excited to finally announce the launch of my Fine Art site! This project has been long in the works and I'm thrilled that when people ask if they can buy any of my travel photography, I can now say "yes!" Click here to see the site that the lovely people over at Livebooks helped me develop.

If you're interested in purchasing any of the framed and matted prints, the finished product will look much like the work hung in my house and featured in this post a few months back.

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Matt & Claudia's Engagement Shoot

Last night I met up with Matt & Claudia to shoot their engagement photos in downtown Chandler. Matt's mom participated in the Bride's Give Back event last month, bid on and won an engagement shoot with me. What a nice mom! :) I had so much fun meeting this couple and getting to know them a bit during our shoot. Can you believe how gorgeous they are?

I loved this spot we found out behind El Zocalo Mexican Grill (eat there, it's yummy too :)):

I found out before our shoot that Matt and Claudia love riding their bikes together and I was thrilled that they were up for including them in a few shots:

Just sweetness:

Love it!

Thanks guys for a great shoot!! I wish you the best!

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MJ's Camera Bag

For Photographers

f.a.q. -- camera bags

I got a question from a fellow photographer recently about what kind of bags I use to tote around my gear and I realized I've never done a F.A.Q. on this topic. Which is crazy because I LOVE my Tamarac 698 Big Wheels Rolling Photo Backpack that I've had for 5 years. It's the perfect size to fit in an overhead compartment on my flights and it fits a ton of gear--including my 17" laptop! It has large durable wheels that have withstood the test of time and many off-road surfaces and it can also function as a backpack (which truth-be-told, I never use). The inside padded compartments are customizable to fit whatever gear you want in them. You can fit two camera bodies and multiple lenses if you want. I carry my back-up body in my light stand bag so in this bag I have 1 body, five lenses, two flashes, my Lexar stackable 4-card reader, flash diffuser, laptop power cord, pocket-wizards, external hard drive, pens, business cards, batteries and CF cards. Phew! I can't believe how much gear I've squeezed into this thing. And I'm wanting to add the 24mm 1.4 lens to my arsenal so I'm going to have to do some rearranging....

My light stand bag is one that I picked up at a local camera store but it's very similar to this one on B&H's website. I have to check the light stand bag whenever I fly but I don't get charged extra usually.

If you're interested in seeing the rest of the equipment that I use, click here to see the full list on B&H's website!

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lesson learned...

...ruffled shirts and wedding photography DO NOT mix.

I've been shooting weddings for 5 years now. And I continually learn new things. The last five years have been quite a journey of lessons learned. A week and a half has passed since my last, somewhat humiliating lesson, so I am now ready to share it with you.

On the day I shot Brett & Kristen's wedding, I wore one of my favorite shirts:

Cute, huh? Simple, black, comfortable, doesn't draw attention, with just the slightest frill? The day was moving along quite smoothly. While shooting this beautiful cake...

I leaned ever-so-slightly over the cake table, took a couple close-up shots, then fortunately looked down briefly. TO FIND MY SHIRT AFLAME. I say this quite calmly now, after the fact, but one doesn't often look at a piece of clothing THAT THEY'RE CURRENTLY WEARING and see flames alighting from it. Suffice it to say, there was no thinking involved. Some people asked me later if I got a picture of it!? What!? Yes, I saw my shirt on fire and then called my assistant over to document it. No, sorry to disappoint you all, but there were no photos taken of me ON FIRE. I just batted at it and the fire went out as quickly as it started. I walked away completely uninjured. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for my beloved shirt:

Now, it's not really ideal for a photographer to catch fire on the wedding day. But there were a few positive points I've found refuge in:

1. No one saw said event. The guests were all outside for cocktail hour, my assistant was in the bathroom (much to her later disappointment) and I was in the corner facing the cake.

2. No one at the wedding (except for my team) found out about it. Other than the charred rayon/polyester smell that emanated from me throughout the remainder of the night, there was nothing to give me away.

3. And, since this point bears repeating, I was uninjured. The fire didn't progress to the point where I needed to stop, drop & roll or go to the hospital.

So I guess I suffered very little in the course of learning this lesson the hard way. Ruffled shirts and wedding photography do not mix. Probably best to just stay away from apparel that in any way hangs clear from your body. Aerodynamic clothing is definitely the way to go. And of course, paying attention to where votive candles are at all times is also key.

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Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Outstanding Occasions

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today meet Heather Crabtree and Jennifer Thinnes of Outstanding Occasions Event Planning Firm. Besides being super-cute, this duo is super-good at what they do. When they plan a wedding I know it's going to be a classy affair and that all bases will be covered. These girls just launched a brand new website last week so definitely be sure to check it out!

Here's some Q & A to help us get to know Heather and Jennifer better. Read their answers below each question:

There are a million and 2 reasons to hire a wedding consultant. If you could only give one to a bride & groom, what would it be?
You hire different vendors that are professionals for your wedding (photographer, florist, videographer, stationary etc), because you want all those elements to be flawless. A wedding consultant ensures a flawless day, helps guide all the various vendors hired, and more importantly supports the bride and groom from the engagement to their departure on the wedding night.

How long have you been in business?
5 and a half years

What got you interested in working in the wedding industry?
The process. We love taking a blank slate and creating an atmosphere that not only your clients admire but that you admire as well. It's fun seeing the process from the very beginning to the very end. You are always thinking on your feet and there is NEVER a dull moment. It's fun to problem solve and work with teams that just won't take NO for an answer.

What type of clients do you find yourself most working with?
We must admit we are pretty picky about who becomes an Outstanding Occasions client. We want to make sure that there is a connection between us and the client. That is more important to both of us then closing a piece of business. The one thing that we can say about our clients is that we actually want to be their friends afterwards! They are talented, gracious, smart, funny and just a blast to be around.

What is the #1 quality you possess that makes you uniquely suited for wedding consulting?
The ability to think outside the box.

What is your favorite part of the wedding planning process?
After spending months of collaborating with the couple on the event design, our favorite part of the planning process is executing that design on the wedding day and seeing all our visions come together.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
This was a toss-up between two things, the father-daughter dance and witnessing the moment that the bride and groom see one another for the first time.

How did you get to be so cool that you are now included on Melissa Jill's Favorite Vendor List? (everyone's going to want to know) :)
We paid her :). Just kidding people...actually we are honored to know and be friends with Melissa Jill. We look forward to working on many future weddings with her. She pretty much rocks :).

Awwww...shucks guys. Now everyone is going to think I paid YOU! Obviously the feeling is mutual!

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