May
31
Weddings by MJ

Eric & Erin


Over the years I have asked many of my couples "What was the moment when you knew he/she was the one?" Over the years I have had two different kinds of answers. The first kind is the couples that say there wasn't a moment in particular; their love just happened over time until it was clear that they had found their partner. The second kind of answer is from couples that say "It happened on THIS day," or "it happened the first time she met my family" or "the first time he said I Love You." Eric and Erin are the second kind of couple. For Erin, there was a moment she knew that she would be with Eric forever.

It was just after a few months of dating. Erin had been enjoying a delicious mango when she broke out in hives. She had hives everywhere. Instead of excusing himself, instead of leaving and saying he'd just call her back later, Eric immediately raced to the store to buy the necessary items.

Benadryl: $6.00
Aveeno Oatmeal Bath Powder: $7.99
Knowing you found a man to love you enough to help you when you're covered in hives and completely vulnerable: Priceless.

Erin, a special education teacher and Eric, a finance and insurance kind of guy met in 2002 at an apartment party in college. Eric was wearing a T-Shirt with a big letter "E" on it. Whether he was expecting it to be a conversation piece with a pretty girl at the party or not, in that moment he caught "E"rin's attention.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this couple is their sense of humor -- they love to laugh at themselves and one another. Witty banter abounds between Eric, Erin and their friends. In the short time I got to spend with them they made each other laugh, they made the wedding party laugh, they made ME laugh...and most importantly, they made it clear what marrying your best friend looks like.

Priceless.

After eight years together, Erin and Eric are husband and wife. It was a pleasure to capture this couple on their wedding day. They were so laid back and not worried in the least that something would go wrong. They simply wanted to enjoy this day, and remember it as another "priceless moment" in their life together.

The entire wedding day took place at Firesky Resort in Scottsdale and I had the pleasure of working with a great team that included Regina Osgood of Meant 2 Be Events -- the coordinator -- and God's Garden Treasures -- the florist. The day started with girl time:





Erin looked amazing in her dress:



Eric and Erin saw each other before the ceremony in a private moment. I loved capturing their emotions at the sight of one another:



We spent some time around the Firesky property capturing some fun portraits of the cute couple:




The bridal party was a ton of fun:




Erin's room was right by the ceremony sight so she relaxed there and watched the guests arrive in the moments before the ceremony was to begin.


Erin was escorted down the aisle by her father:


I'm just in love with the light in this next sequence of shots:


The ceremony was full of emotion:


And Eric and Erin were declared husband and wife!


The reception details were beautiful:


The couple's cake was a nod to Eric's love of fly fishing:


Some of my favorite photos from the first dance:





What an amazing day! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it Eric & Erin!!

If you'd like to see even more photos from this wedding, click here to watch the slideshow!


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May
28
For Photographers

Optimizing images for web

I've gotten a number of questions lately about how I'm able to retain the color and sharpness of my images when uploading to my blog or Facebook. I remember running into this issue early on when uploading images to the web. I'd spend all this time getting the image perfect on my monitor and then after uploading it, the color would be all faded out and it would just look like poo. There's nothing more frustrating!

Back in the day I did some googling and figured out what my issue was. I believe it had to do with my "save for web" settings but I can't remember exactly so I thought I'd just share my process with you so you know all of the settings I use.

I shoot in sRGB color space. I shoot in RAW. When converting from RAW to .jpg I have the following two boxes checked: "convert Profile to sRGB" and "Include ICC Profile."


I resize my .jpgs for the web to 880 px wide (for horizontal shots) then run Kevin Kubota's Magic Sharp action on them. I always use the history brush to erase the action on part of the image and to dilute it on the rest. I use it sparingly because over-sharpening looks gross. I used to be a photographer who over-sharpened but I realized the error of my ways.

Then I save for web. Make sure to use the "save for web" setting rather than just the "save as" setting because it will help your images load more quickly on your blog and website. The following is a screen shot of my save for web settings. Note the three boxes checked in the upper right quadrant:


That's it! Beyond these settings I have no other magic formula to share with you. But I hope this helps!

If you found this tip helpful, click here to find out about other resources I offer photographers!


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May
27
Autism

Autism Awareness: Causes


This is week three in my new series dedicated to raising awareness about Autism. Again -- 1 in every 91 children today have Autism! -- awareness is desperately needed! Thanks for reading these posts!

Today I'm going to share some amazing and very recent info that has come out of a research program at ASU. This info was shared by Dr. James Adams -- the director of the program -- at a recent Autism Research Breakfast Fundraiser I attended. It has to do with the causes of Autism. It has been accepted that the causes of Autism are multiple and varied. If there was one single cause, the answer would be simple and easily pinned down. But just as the children with Autism vary greatly as to the severity of their symptoms and issues, so do the causes of Autism likely vary. There is much work still to be done to find out more about the causes of Autism, but I'm greatly encouraged by the findings that have recently come out of the ASU research program.

At the breakfast Dr. Adams shared a list of contributing factors to Autism and the percentage of children with Autism who show signs of these contributing factors. I frantically scribbled it down and have yet to find it somewhere online, but when I do, I'll definitely link to it. Here is the list and percentages:

Single Factor
5-10% -- Single Genetic Mutation
12% -- Maternal antibodies to fetus' brain

Major Contributing Factors
45% -- Abnormal maternal glutathione/methylation (treatable)
50% -- Excessive Oral Antibiotics
80% -- Toxic metals
50% -- Gut problems (these tend to be the most severe cases)
25% -- Low lithium in mothers & children
50% -- Viral exposure
30% -- Adverse reaction to vaccines

Some of what is written above is Greek to me but there are a few things I gather from these findings:

1. Progress is being made and the causes of Autism are knowable and many of them are treatable and preventable.
2. The majority of these causes are biomedical in nature which again points to Autism being treatable and preventable.
3. There is evidence that 30% of children with Autism had an adverse reaction to vaccines.

I'm going to delve more into some of these causes in future posts, but for now, if you'd like more information, you can look at the following sources:

ASU Research Program Website
What can be done to prevent Autism now
Autism is treatable



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May
26
News!

Featured on Elizabeth Anne Designs!


I'm so honored to share that Cameron and Laura's beautiful wedding at Silverleaf Club in Scottsdale is featured on Elizabeth Anne Designs wedding blog today! This wedding was so special and fun to be a part of. Click here to see the full feature!


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May
24
Weddings by MJ

Steve & Jaime


Saturday, May 22nd was the day before Pentecost - when the Lord sent the Holy Spirit down upon the Apostles. Pentecost is symbolized by the Dove to represent the Holy Spirit, by Fire to represent the power of the Holy Spirit, and the color red to represent the passion, the zeal...the Spirit ignited within.

Saturday, May 22nd was also the day of Steve and Jaime's beautiful sacrament. Their love was symbolized by the exchanging of rings to represent eternal commitment, communion to remember Christ's sacrifice, and Jamie's favorite color, Red, to represent the passion, the zeal, the work of the Spirit within them and their marriage.

Steve and Jaime met September 1st, 2007 out at a movie with friends. It was clear at the start that they both possessed qualities that the other was looking for in a lifelong partner. From the beginning Steve could tell that Jaime was sweet, and he learned over time that she was artistic and loyal. But perhaps the most wonderful discovery was the fact that this beautiful woman wasn't afraid to just be goofy. Around Jaime, Steve could be himself. They spend the majority of their time together laughing. Jaime was quickly taken by Steve's generosity, his romance, and his ability to figure-things-out. Jaime loved to have fun with Steve and believed him to be oh-so-handsome.

Both of them were inspired by the other's powerful Catholic faith. Every day these two come together, clasp hands and pray. It is these intimate moments that are the most meaningful. Moments where, in showing their love for their Lord, they strengthen their love for each other.

Their first date was a picnic at the Biltmore where they were showing Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was there on the lawn, beneath the Arizona night sky that they shared their first kiss. Walking around Old Town Scottsdale Civic Center Park is where they first said "I Love You". And on the couch at Jaime's parents house, Steve asked Jaime to be his companion, his partner in faith, his bride.

She agreed.

When I first met Jaime and Steve, Jaime shared her favorite Bible verse: 1 Peters 4:8 "Above all let your love for one another be intense, for love covers a multitude of sins." Saturday May 22nd was an amazing day filled with the fire of love. The reception expressed their love for their families and friends and the ceremony expressed their love for their Lord and for each other. All day long I felt the presence of their love. I know you will feel the same as you witness it here through the photos.




Steve's gifts to his groomsmen were photo-worthy:



Steve was SO happy watching his bride walk down the aisle toward him.


One of my favorite shots from the day:



Married!


A few of my favorite portraits:





Steve has a 1974 Stingray Corvette that we took out for a few shots:




The reception was a fun party:


Steve surprised Jaime by serenading her at the reception. He sang "Green Eyes" by Coldplay and did an impressive job. He was rewarded with a big kiss.


A couple fun dancing shots:




What a great day! To see even more photos from this wedding, click here to view the slideshow!


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