Wednesday, June 13, 2007

NEW BLOG LAUNCH!!!! (#95...check!)

Ok---don't waste any more time looking at this post. Go DIRECTLY to my brand new blog!!

www.melissajill.net


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Flagstaff Fun


We're back from Flagstaff but I wanted to share some fun shots from the trip. Sarah brought her yellow lab, Cyrus, and I brought Dixie. We all packed into Ryan's 2 door Honda Civic--Sarah and Cyrus in the back, me and Dixie in the passenger seat and Ryan driving. It was cozy! Cyrus is like 85 pounds of dog or something crazy like that. He liked to put his head up by Ryan and watch the road while we were driving.


And when he wanted to rest:


Pretty cute.

We stayed up in Flagstaff at Sarah's dad and step-mom's house. It was so relaxing and Dixie had a great time. Sarah's dad has a golden retriever named Wesley so Dixie had two huge playmates:


I've had Dixie for a little over a month now. She's turning out to be such a great dog! She's already grown about 3 times as big as when I got her. I couldn't resist sharing a few cute shots:



Yesterday we took a boat out on Lake Mary and enjoyed the beautiful weather. The dogs had fun running around. Check out how beautiful it was:



Everybody getting settled on the boat:


Sarah and Ryan:


Dixie's first boat ride! She's looking a little wind-blown :).


I love this one with Wesley's nose in the lower right corner:


Me and my sweetie:


We had such a fun weekend! Thanks Bob and Jean for your hospitality!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ryan & Sarah's engagement shoot


Last night I got to shoot Ryan & Sarah's engagement shoot in Flagstaff, Arizona. I feel so blessed to be here--it's perfect weather and I feel like I'm on vacation or something. Plus Sarah & Ryan are friends and I really enjoy spending time with them. This is the Sarah, by the way, who designed my website. She's super-talented.

Downtown Flagstaff is where we spent most of our time and there were tons of fun places to shoot. We started out where every good engagement shoot should--at a huge mural of a cow painted on the side of a building.


Being goofy:


Sarah & Ryan are perfect for one another. She admits to being more pessimistic by nature whereas Ryan is optimistic. They claim they balance each other out. We saw these shirts at two different stores across the street and had to shoot a few shots with them:


Here's a close-up in case you can't read them:


This is totally unrelated to the shoot, but as we were walking around we came across this newspaper distribution-thingy (what do you call these things anyway?):


Ok, now down to the serious business. Check out how gorgeous Sarah looks here. I love her eyes.


Ryan's not bad looking either :).



More cute photos:









We had fun by the railroad tracks which were surprisingly busy:





I played around with a slow shutter speed to get the movement of the train as it passed by:




At the end of the shoot Sarah and I got Ryan to take a shot of us.


Oh--and this was my first shoot using my new Shootsac by Jessica Claire. It worked great! Here's me modeling it although I also had a black sweatshirt around my waist so it doesn't show off the bag that well:


What a fun shoot! I wish I could stay in Flagstaff all summer...

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Friday, June 08, 2007

When it Rains it Pours


So the flu is gone. I'm feeling better which I'm thankful for.

Yesterday the ladies who clean my house were over and while reaching to clean a window, one of them put her weight on my desk and broke it causing my 21" monitor to fall and break along with a few other things. Ahhh!!!!! Why does everything happen all at once!?!

I took my monitor in to the friendly guys at the Apple store and they are hooking me up with a new foot for it (basically a plastic part that helps it stand up) for $100. Thankfully the monitor itself is alright. But the desk is being held up temporarily by some album boxes and now I'm in Flagstaff for the weekend :).

I'm here with my friends Sarah and Ryan who are getting hitched in August. Sarah's dad lives up here and we thought it would be a fun place to do their engagement shoot.

So hopefully bad things really do happen in threes and my grandpa's heart attack, the flu and the destruction of my office are it for me this week :).

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Update

Thanks for your prayers everyone. My grandpa is stable. It turns out he called 911 and was taken to the hospital where he had two stints put in an artery that had a clot. Unfortunately, he did sustain some heart damage and we're waiting to find out if he's going to ever have the surgery that was planned for Friday.

My parents flew out to Florida yesterday. I prayed about flying out too but didn't feel a peace about it. And now I have the flu! So I guess it's good I didn't go. I'm pretty sure this is the flu that my relatives had in Minnesota while I was there--it's been about 10 days.

I promise I have more fun things to blog about but they'll have to wait....

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Please Pray!

If any of you are pray-ers out there, please pray for my grandpa. My mom just called and my aunt is taking him to the hospital--he is having a heart attack. He is 75 and lives in Florida. A few weeks ago he was having a routine appointment and they found blockage and he was scheduled to have bypass surgery this Friday.

Thank you!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

#55....check!


55. Go camping

I just got back from an awesome weekend camping up in the Show Low area. I grew up camping quite a bit in Minnesota and some in Florida but I think the last time I was camping was back in college in Ensenada, Mexico. So I put this goal on my 101 in 1001 list because I really enjoy getting away and soaking in nature.

Some of my close friends--Erik & Marisa Spletter--who have 3 kids just got some camping equipment and are planning to do a lot of family vacationing camping-style. And they invited me along! I was excited because not only was I going camping and spending some time with friends, but I also got the chance to cheer Erik on as he did an Olympic triathlon (quarter of the length of an Iron Man). But I'll get to that in a minute.

The top photo is the view from our campsite. Can you believe how beautiful it was!? Erik & Marisa just brought along their five-year-old, Karina, and left the other kids with grandpa and grandma.


Karina is quite the rock climber for her age!


Marisa enjoying the view:


Erik and Karina checking out the sunset:


This is what it looked like from where they were standing:


On Saturday, Erik did his triathlon and it was super-fun cheering him on and documenting the race. He completed the 1500 meter swim, 20-some mile bike and 8-some mile run in under 3 hours! I can't even imagine trying this but he's done it a number of times!

I love this shot of the race starting:


And this was total luck, but I caught Erik giving us a thumbs up as he swam past!


Here he is heading out on the bike:


And starting the run:


And finally crossing the finish line:


A congratulatory hug from Marisa afterwards:


Way to go Erik! You're amazing!!

The only bummer about the three nights we spent out there was that there was a fire restriction in effect and we were only able to have a campfire one night :(. So I felt a little jipped about that. But we kept ourselves busy with some fun games most of the time:


And I turned my camera over to Erik for one fun shot of me and Marisa:


Thanks so much for the fun time guys!! I can't wait to do it again sometime!

In other news, my email is back up and I have a bunch of emails waiting for me in my inbox from when I was gone. I'm not sure if I'm missing any so if you don't hear back from me in the next day or two, try resending. Thanks for your patience!!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Disaster Update

So...the website is back up and so is the blog. Let me know if you click on any links that don't work somewhere or find any photos missing where they should appear--just leave a comment here so I can get all my bases covered.

But email is still down. No telling when that will be fixed. Feel free to email me at melissajill@mac.com in the meantime or communicate through the comments on my blog.

Tomorrow I'm heading out of town AGAIN to take care of #55 on my list -- Go camping! I'm excited to get out of the heat and head up to northern Arizona once again. It's going to be weird, though, going a full 3 days without any contact with the outer world via email or the internet. I'm sure I'll go through some hard core withdrawals. I guess if my email is going to be down, this is a good time since I won't be able to check it the next couple days anyways. But I'm very sorry to those of you who I haven't gotten back to. Please be patient with me! Things are going to slow down and I'll be able to get on top of everything again soon.

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Disaster Relief Mode

Right now I'm going through every small business owner's nightmare--my website is down, and I can't receive email! Ahhhh!!!

I'm in the process of transferring my domain to a new hosting company and it's quite an arduous process because my original domain registrar is basically out of business and is taking his time getting everything straightened out. I don't fully understand all this stuff but realized late last night that I wasn't receiving emails and then checked my website to find out it was down. So I've been scrambling ever since.

Please be patient with me as I get all this sorted out and feel free to call instead of email if you want to get through to me today.

Thanks!!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2 more guest book designs


We just finished up 2 more fabulous guest book designs. Tatum & Shane are getting married in September and Katina and Robert are getting hitched in October.

These guest books are a hot product. They're such a unique idea for a guest book to use at your wedding. And they look great filled with notes from your family and friends all over the pages.

Click here to view Tatum & Shane's guest book and here to view Katina & Robert's. Keep in mind that the actual books are 11x8 in size.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

My Grandpa

This past week I got to see my 86-year-old grandpa up in Minnesota. After he put his teeth and hearing aid in, we got to sit down and talk. I think old people tell some of the best stories so I asked him about how he met my grandma (who died 10 years ago). And he told me the story of how they dated and eventually eloped! I think it's pretty cute how he tells it.



He went on to tell the story of how he served in WWII as a medic for the red cross but unfortunately my SD card ran out of space. Anyhow, the part I got is 9 minutes long so I guess that's enough to put up here. Hopefully it's not too boring for you since you don't know my grandpa :).

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Laura & Nate


Yesterday I shot my cousin Laura's wedding in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It was a rough week for Laura and Nate leading up to the wedding. Nate was in a motorcycle accident and thankfully was wearing a helmet and leather jacket but still broke his shoulder blade and bruised himself up pretty good. Pain killers helped him through the wedding. And the morning of the wedding Laura woke up struggling to swallow and went to the doctor only to find out she had mono! So they were both on drugs but the wedding went well and I honestly couldn't tell that Laura was sick. Plus Lee, Laura's brother, who was supposed to be an usher, came down with a violent flu bug on the day of the wedding and was completely out of commission. I'm still up here one more day with my aunt and uncle and now my uncle has the flu! Hopefully I won't be bringing it back to share with all of you in Arizona :).

The wedding was very simple but also very special with many family and friends in attendance.

This is my gorgeous cousin Amanda up from Nebraska:


The dress:


Getting the dress on without messing up the hair is always a fun challenge:


Laura & Nate seeing each other for the first time:


We just walked around the church grounds for portraits but I loved what I had to work with:



Laura & Nate were so sweet together.





Here's the bridal party:


The groomsmen:



The bridesmaids:


Laura's dad walked her down the isle to the country song "I loved her first." It was a tear-jerker.


The cute ring-bearer:


And the sweet flower girl:



I've never seen Laura happier:


Finally married and off to nurse each other back to health :).


If you'd like to see a slideshow with more photos from the day, click here.

Congratulations Nate & Laura!!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Life in Northern Minnesota

Today I spent some time exploring my aunt & uncle's property where I'm staying for a few days. My uncle used to run a lumber mill and used a bunch of equipment on his property over 20 years ago to build their log home. And it's still there along with a bunch of other junk that has accumulated over the years. I enjoy photographing old stuff just for the fun of it so I felt like I hit the jackpot today!

To start with, here's the beautiful log home he built:


And the driveway looking out toward the highway:


This is a tractor that my uncle claims is rare. I'll have to take his word for it.




The caterpillar's treads:


And a bunch of other rusty stuff that is foreign to me but was fun to shoot:







And old army truck cab that my uncle bought for parts:







After all that trekking through the brush, I attracted a community of wood ticks--7 is the total count that was extracted from my person. Fun stuff! Thus is life in Northern Minnesota :).

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Traveling

Sorry I haven't blogged in a few days, guys. I've been scrambling to get everything wrapped up at the office and then today spent the day traveling up to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where I'm shooting my cousin Laura's wedding on Friday. I made it even though I feared for my life a bit in this small plane I took from Minneapolis to Duluth in the midst of a rain storm. It was pretty turbulent.

It's been nice to see family today and breathe in some cool tree-scented air. My aunt and uncle live in a log house they built near a swamp and the noise from the frogs that live there is unbelievably loud. I'll have to post some photos of how beautiful it is here soon.

In other news, I sent out my May newsletter yesterday. So if you didn't receive it and are interested, just put your email address in the box to the right and you'll receive fun news from me every month.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Alex & Ryan


Saturday was Alex & Ryan's wedding. These two are a totally sweet couple who are friends of Laura & Daniel -- a couple who's wedding I shot a year and a half ago. So it was fun to see them again--happily married :).

This wedding was a dream to shoot. Even though it was hot and sunny all day, we had great light overall and beautiful places to shoot. Not to mention beautiful people :). We started out the day at a great salon in downtown Tempe -- Mood Swings. If you're getting married and looking for a salon to get ready at--check this one out--I would love the chance to shoot there again.

Here's Michelle--the maid of honor:


Alex getting her make-up done:



Next we headed to The Secret Garden, a great venue in south Phoenix. I love shooting there. My friend Sarah is the coordinator and she is a joy to work with. Also, The Secret Garden has the prettiest getting ready rooms I've seen at all the venues I've worked at.

Here's the dress:


And the shoes--one for style, one for comfort:


The girls were so funny--they really wanted the day to be peaceful and fun so they brought Uno to pass the time before getting dressed:



Alex was a gorgeous bride:



Here's Ryan hanging out with his Best Man, Scott before the wedding. I love how they're sitting the same way:


During the portraits of the guys I was working with the 2-year-old ring bearer to sit like this:


And instead, he came up with his own pose:


So hilarious!!

Here's the adorable flower girl:


Preparing the way for the bride:


The guests looked on as Alex's dad walked her down the huge staircase to get married:


Such a beautiful setting--you wouldn't know we were in Arizona except for the heat!



Some fun portraits with Alex and Ryan after the ceremony:






And the first dance:



A great moment during the father/daughter dance:


And then the par-tay!


If you haven't had enough and would like to see even more photos from the wedding, click here to see the slideshow.

Congratulations Alex & Ryan--it was such a magical day!

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Jim & Julie's Engagement Shoot


Friday I shot Jim & Julie's Engagement Shoot up at Desert Mountain near where they live and where they will be getting married in November. They have a great story of how they met and began doing business together, developing a friendship before their relationship blossomed into a romance. They're a great couple and we had a fun shoot. Here's some of my favorites:





Jim has a two-year-old daughter named Bella who came along as well--super cute!





It's so beautiful up at Desert Mountain. I can't wait for the wedding!





Thanks for the great shoot and for dinner you guys!

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Eric & Melanie


Eric & Melanie got married last Saturday in Sedona. It was absolutely picturesque. Buckle up because I have a LOT of favorites to share with you. The day started out with hair and make-up:



I love the old-world feel to this photo:


The dress:


A couple shots of Eric getting ready:



Melanie warned me ahead of time that her family is a bunch of mad picture-takers. And she wasn't exaggerating.


Another one from later in the day:


Melanie's sister, Lindsey, was one of the bridesmaids:


More fun prep shots:



Melanie is absolutely gorgeous:


Walking down the aisle:


I love this shot of Lindsey:


It was an emotional ceremony. Melanie tried her best to hold back the tears:


After the ceremony, the bridal party had a toast. Jamie caught this shot of Eric missing the glass as he poured Melanie some champagne.



Portrait time was so much fun with Melanie and Eric. What a beautiful setting!







It was fun seeing their custom-designed guest book put to use:


The flowers and table settings were beautiful:


I got the chance to play with my new off-camera lighting equipment for the first time at a reception. Here's the results:




What a great wedding! Thanks Eric & Melanie!!

If you'd like to see a slideshow with even more photos from the day, click here.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

#64...check!


64. Be on "Simple Photo Minute"


I'm so excited! My friend, Dane Sanders, a wedding photographer in OC that started his business up around the same time as me and helped found OSP (Open Source Forum) has this great thing for photographers called "Simple Photo Minute." He puts together short videos that are educational and seek to help wedding photographers simplify their lives and businesses. It's great and I've been watching the weekly podcasts for over a year now.

When I made my list of 101 goals to complete in 1001 days, I put this one on there. About a month ago, I filmed a segment of myself walking through how I run my client meetings and Dane used it! Click here to view my 1st Simple Photo Minute!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lunch with Gino


Today I went to lunch with Gino Lucadamo of Story by Photo. Gino has been in the wedding photography business a lot longer than I have and is doing very well for himself specializing in destination weddings. Not only is he talented but he's a fun guy to hang out with. We've gone to lunch a number of times over the past couple years and it's always fun.

I really enjoy hanging out with other wedding photographers. We have a great industry of people who enjoy networking and helping each other out.

Thanks for lunch Gino!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The Puppy's Name Is....

Dixie!

I decided to name my new puppy Dixie. It's a fun name that fits her personality, I like the south and she's tiny like a dixie cup. I don't have any deeper reasons for picking the name. Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the decision. It definitely helped me a lot to have so many ideas pouring in!

I caught this video of Dixie tonight finding the "other dog" in my office. It's hilarious.





Isn't she SOOOO cute!? Now if I could just get her potty trained and get some work done....

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