Apr
20
Weddings by MJ

Adam & Marie


Adam & Marie were married Saturday on a beautiful Arizona day at Silverleaf Club in Scottsdale. Silverleaf is one of my all-time favorite venues to shoot at and you'll see why a little later in this post. But first, the day started off at the Fairmont Princess with hair and make-up.

Adam did an amazing job with Marie's engagement ring:


I love this shot of Marie with her flower girl...such a sweet moment:


Corrina Cooke did a fabulous job with the make-up!


Marie's bouquet and all the flowers were done by one of my favorite florists -- White House Interiors & Flowers.


Marie's Manuel Mota dress from Mariee was stunning:



Adam surprised Marie with a thoughtful card moments before she went outside to meet him. It brought tears to her eyes:


After the tears were dried we headed outside for some portraits. Marie looking gorgeous:


And some fun portraits of the cute couple:





Here's a shot of Marie with her bridesmaids who wore beautiful dresses from Ann Taylor:


And Adam with the guys:


A few pre-ceremony shots:


I adore these two shots of Marie taken by my 2nd photographer, Phillip Glickman. In the first she seems to be taking a deep breath in preparation for the big moment. In the second, she makes the long journey down the large staircase before walking down the aisle.


The beautiful ceremony setting:



Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, is Adam's godmother and she officiated the ceremony. It was a treat for everyone in attendance.



The kiss!


A portrait with Justice O'Connor and the newlyweds:


Get ready for loads of amazing details!! All of the paper products including the programs pictured above, the place cards and table numbers were courtesy of The Invitation Lady.

Check out these colorful and partially edible place cards:


The unbelievable centerpieces:



And even more details....I loved the amazing cake by AZ Cakes!


Finally, I'm going to wrap up this post with some fun party-shots! Everyone had a great time on the dance floor with The Hamptons Band keeping things lively. Here's Marie's parents:


And even Sandra Day O'Connor got her groove on!



One final sweet portrait:


What a great wedding! If you'd like to see even more photos from the day, click here to see the slideshow!


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Apr
18
Weddings by MJ

MJ's top 10 wedding destinations

Over the years I've been blessed to be able to travel to some really great destinations to shoot weddings. I thought it would be fun to do a post to relive some of the fabulous weddings I've had the pleasure of shooting in various areas of the country. Some of these couples had destination weddings and some of them just flew me out to where they lived and were holding the festivities. I love that brides and grooms have so many options these days when planning the most important day of their lives. They can stay near home or hold a destination wedding. They can hire a photographer in town or pay an extra travel fee to have any photographer they like flown to the site of their wedding to document their day. Anything goes! So if you're a bride--dream big!

I know you're traditionally supposed to start top 10 lists with #10, but I'm going to be wild and crazy and start with my top faves first.

#1 -- Half Moon Bay, CA -- Brent & Michelle's wedding

This little bay south of San Francisco has a small-town beach feel. When we were there at least, it felt like we were the only ones in town. It was so quaint and private. Plus it is a photographer's dream. The ceremony was held in a beautiful garden, we shot on the beach and also in a nearby field. Everywhere you turned there was another beautiful and unique setting in which to shoot.


#2 -- Kauai -- Andy & Jonna's Wedding

If you dream of a beach wedding--Hawaii can't be beat! I'm SO excited because I get to go back to Kauai in June to shoot another fabulous wedding. I can't wait!!!


#3 -- Portland, OR -- Daren & Sarah's Wedding

I've shot 2 weddings in Portland now and it's my absolute favorite city location. Downtown Portland is ripe with artsy culture and its architecture is full of color and character. I also love that it's so pedestrian-friendly. I love living in Phoenix, but if I HAD TO move, Portland would be at the top of my list.


#4 -- North Carolina

I've had the opportunity to shoot 3 weddings in North Carolina (pre-blog days) and I love the history and southern-charm it holds. The east coast is so different from the west and there's just something about it that makes me want to keep coming back for more.


#5 -- San Diego -- Michael & Kindra's Wedding

I've also shot 3 weddings in San Diego--the most recent of which was just 2 weeks ago. Love this city too. It reminds me a little of Portland. I love walking around the downtown area and Coronado island is stinkin' charming! Great restaurants, great views, great weather--it's hard to beat!


#6 -- South Carolina -- Clay & Rhonda's Wedding

South Carolina is up here for many of the same reasons as its northern counterpart. It's beautiful. And I love the accents!


#7 -- San Francisco -- Taylor & Lisa's Wedding

San Francisco is another of my favorite downtown locations. It's chalk full of character and culture. It's so full of energy, interesting people and great architecture at every turn.


#8 -- Sedona, Arizona -- Chris & Vanessa's Wedding and Ryan & Sarah's Wedding

I've shot 4 weddings in Sedona. And though it's a destination that is a little closer to home for me, I absolutely adore it. It's a one-of-a-kind place with it's red-rock mountains, trickling streams and get-away-from-it-all feel.



#9 -- Palm Springs, CA -- Rob & Val's Wedding

I've only been to Palm Springs for one wedding but The Parker is one of the most unique, fun venues I've shot at to date. You have to check out the photos from this wedding to see for yourself.


#10 -- Arkansas -- Daniel & Jessica's Wedding

Last, but certainly not least (there's a few destinations that didn't even make the list!) is Arkansas. I loved the wedding I shot in Arkansas because of it's intimate country-feel. And again -- the accents :).


What a fun walk down memory lane this post was for me! It you're a bride--I hope it inspires you to dream big and make your wedding uniquely you!!


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Apr
17
For Photographers

f.a.q. -- album companies

I get a ton of questions from other photographers and one that has been coming up a lot lately surrounds the topic of which album companies I use. There are SO MANY album companies out there for photographers to choose from so it can be tough wading through them to figure out which ones are a good fit for you and your clients. I use three different album companies that I love all for different reasons.

My most -used album company is Graphi Studio. Graphi is based out of Italy and offers great flush-mount albums that we custom-design here in the studio. The two things I love about Graphi are the price point and the affordable duplicate albums. Graphi is the most affordable album company I use so I include a 10x14 inch Graphi Studio album with 100 images in all of my packages for a value of $2000. I also adore their duplicate parent albums -- hard cover and of the exact same design as the larger album -- that come 6x8 and 8x12 in size. In addition, I love to throw in 6 little mini duplicate soft-cover 4x5 albums as a gift to my clients when they purchase this album. Here are some photos of the samples we showcase in the studio:


The second album company I offer my clients is Queensberry which is a company based in New Zealand. The Queensberry albums I offer are very similar in style to the Graphi albums--also 14x10 vertical albums that include 100 images and are custom-designed here in the studio. The two things I love about Queensberry are their quality and service. Queensberry pages are a little thicker and the albums have a sturdier feel than the Graphi albums. In addition, Queensberry's standard of service to me as a photographer, really stands out among other companies. They are great to work with. Queensberry costs a bit more so I offer these albums as a $500 upgrade. I also offer more cover options than I do with the Graphi album. Clients can pick from a variety of cover material including leathers and fabrics.


The third album company that I work with is La Vie. La Vie albums offer my clients variety. They are unique and finely hand-crafted. La Vie albums are designed and created all by the artists at the album company itself. They use specialty papers, cut right into the papers, placing the photos in the page and covering them with a protective coating. They also have fun fold-out pages and surprises throughout each album. The quality and hand-craftsmanship is unbelievable. I offer 12x12 La Vie albums with 100 images for the same $500 upgrade as Queensberry.


There are many other great album companies out there but at some point, each photographer just has to pick which one(s) fit well with their photographic style, their clients' needs and their workflow.


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MJ's Camera Bag


Apr
15
Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Scott Swanson


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 my favorite officiant, Scott Swanson. I've worked with a lot of really great officiants. And if some of you are reading this--I love you too! But I have a special place in my heart for Scott. I'm COMPLETELY biased on this one. Scott and I have been friends for over 10 years, we've worked together and he's currently my pastor. But if you think he's on my FVL (favorite vendor list) just because of these things you would be wrong. I've seen Scott officiate a number of weddings and he really stands out in an awesome way. He's SO genuine and shows true care for the couples he marries--customizing each ceremony with personal touches that highlight the couple's personalities and love for one another. And he is completely free-of-cheese. He is in a no-cheese-zone. His ceremonies are non-cheesy. He's also got the gift of projection. You can almost do without the microphones with this guy--his voice carries. But I digress. Ok--I interviewed Scott so we could all get to know him better. His answers are listed under the questions below:


How long have you been officiating weddings?
I think I officiated my first wedding in 2003.

What first got you interested in officiating weddings?
Already being a pastor, it was a natural fit for me. My initial interest was born out of my love for people, desire to serve/help them and interest in trying something new!

Besides officiating weddings, what else do you do with your time?
As I mentioned I'm a pastor. So I spend time reading, writing, leading, teaching and caring for people. I try to make it to the gym 3 times a week and often am successful at it! The rest of my time is spent with my beautiful wife and 4 boys (3 of my own and our current foster boy). So...my days are full of working, putting a fake tattoo on an arm, corralling, playing, putting someone in time-out while saying, "you can't say those words, hurt people, or be disrespectful like that" and giving lots of baths! After all that, it's time to watch LOST.

Melissa here again. Just wanted to interject a photo of Scott's cute family and also say that while Scott was alluding to putting fake tattoos on his boys' arms, he has a real tattoo on his! I wish I had a photo of it. But basically there is one word on each of his biceps (picture him showing you his guns). It says "Love" "Wins." Pretty cool.


Back to the interview--

What type of clients/weddings do you most find yourself working with?
Well I hope I'm not shooting myself in the foot by saying this. I mostly work with younger couples getting married -those in their 20's & 30's. The reason for this is obvious -I'm in my thirties and have a very relational, personal approach that connects well with them.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of other people's big days?
I really enjoy meeting people, getting to know them and helping them plan their wedding. But my favorite part is performing their ceremony. I love speaking meaningful words about the depth of their love. I love leading them in bringing their lives together as one. I love watching them try to pour sand so carefully, only to have it dump all over the table.

What do you feel like sets you apart from other officiants?
As I mentioned before, being a younger officiant sets me apart as well as my laid-back personality. I talk with passion and conviction because I believe in what I'm saying. I don't just stand and read off the page. I keep my personality while I'm performing the ceremony. I've been told all these things make me unique.

If you could give one piece of advice to couples on their wedding day, what would it be?
It is said couples spend countless hours preparing for their wedding day but very little time preparing for their marriage. My advice is to do both.

Are there any other fun-facts that we should really know about you that would contribute even more to your coolness?
Yes, though I have never shared this publicly. I'm only saying this to make this blog post yet another "Melissa Special"...I'm a ninja.


Thanks Scott--very enlightening :). To see Scott's website--click here!


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Album Design Templates


Apr
14
News!

google reader love

Back in September I joined Facebook and something had to give. That something ended up being my blog reading. Facebook took over that slot in my life that used to be spent on my Google Reader catching up with everyone in the blog world. As of late, Google Reader and I have become reacquainted and have done some catching up. It's been pretty sweet.

For those of you who are still going to the individual URLs of your favorite blogs hundreds of times each day to see if they have been updated (and I know some of you are because my Google Analytics tells me that 14% of my visits are from people who visit my site 100 or more times a month! Don't worry--I don't know your names so I can't name them :)) you seriously need to check out Google Reader. It's a one stop shop for all your blog-reading fun. Now all you need to do is click on one bookmarked URL and you can instantly see which of your favorite blogs have been updated since you last visited.

Here's a screen shot of my Google Reader:


All you do to set it up is click on the "Add a Subscription" button on the top left and copy and paste the URLs of your favorite blogs in there. Then they will show up listed under "Subscriptions." You can further organize them into folders like I have. So in this screen shot, I can click on my "Photogirls" folder and see that I have 2 unread posts from all of my blogs listed in there. Once I click on that folder I can preview the posts and read the first couple lines of each to see if I'm interested. If I'm interested, I can click on the individual posts and see them in their entirety (photos & all) in the window on the right. It's pure genius and makes an efficiency-lover like me VERY HAPPY.

Don't forget if you do use Google Reader to click on the posts and open them in the original blog every once in awhile to leave some love in the form of a comment. If I ever have a happy thought in regard to a post I read, I always take time to leave a comment. For me comments are like great big hugs and I can't get enough of them--so thank you to all of you who comment regularly!!

Recently, one of my photo friends showed me another cool thing you can find through Google Reader. If you click on "Browse for stuff" -- the very technical term on the list in the upper left -- you can click on "Browse" and then search by keyword for different blogs. You can type in different keywords like "photo" and it will bring up all the blogs with that word in the title. You can also search for your own blog and find out how many people subscribe to your blog through Google Reader--so cool!!


I'm totally blown away and humbled that 1,120 people find my blog interesting enough to subscribe to it. Thanks guys! I'll work hard to keep bringing good content your way. In the meantime, if you haven't already, check out Google Reader for streamlined blog reading fun!


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