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Valentine’s Number 9

Today is our ninth Valentine’s Day together. Can you believe that? Nine years! It’s flown by faster than I could have imagined it would. Nine years ago I couldn’t have imagined our life today. I wouldn’t have pictured myself as a wedding photographer…much less with my husband as my part time employee! I couldn’t have dreamed up the incredible trips we’ve taken, the adventures we’ve had. I don’t think I would have known it would take me a lot longer to get pregnant or that so much distance and drama would materialize in my own family. Nine years has been a long time, but also a short one. We’ve both grown into people who I both do and do not recognize. Like me, hitting the gym 6 days a week…what is that even?

Couple at Lanikai Beach

The other day I was avoiding some kind of chore around the house and thinking back on past Valentine’s Days. My mind wandered back to our first. We’d been living together for about a week and a half at that point and I was so sure that my boyfriend (haven’t used that word to refer to John in some time…ha!!!) wasn’t going to make plans and that I was going to be pissed. Being proactive as always, I told him in no uncertain words that I not only wanted him to make plans for us, but I wanted him to make sure we did NOT go to Plaza, OR somewhere else we always went. The pressure was on for him to make it a great, memorable first Valentine’s Day! I think it’s so funny looking back at that memory for two reasons:

  1. I realized that John as a husband way outshines John as a boyfriend. John is dedicated to me in a way that I’ve struggled to feel that I deserve. If you’ve seen This is Us, you’ve probably cried over how sweet Jack is to Rebecca, who in my opinion is kind of a jerk sometimes. I have legit bawled over them because I see in that character my sweet, generous husband, who goes out of his way to show love to me, who does not always deserve it. John the boyfriend took me to Carrabba’s that Valentine’s Day (which is hilarious…apparently I thought that Carrabba’s was really fancy when I was 20, obviously further evidence that things change over time!!). John the husband moved across town last year from a home that he loved to an old home neither one of us really loved all that much because I wanted a new chapter even if I wasn’t going to have a baby. It’s not that John wasn’t a good boyfriend…I think it’s just that he has grown and matured into someone who loves very deeply and has gotten a lot better at showing it. Which leads me to my second realization:
  2. My second realization was “WOW, we have really grown up a lot since that first Valentine’s Day!”. Sometimes when I tell people that I’ve been with John for almost ten years they give me an odd look. I’m still (only) 29, so I guess the idea that I could have spent nearly a decade loving one person is strange to a lot of people. But I think it’s worked out because the core of our relationship is really our friendship. We were friends before anything else, and even when our marriage has gone through some of the less fun parts of a marriage, I still enjoy being around him no matter what because we are best friends. We have both changed SO much in the past nine (almost ten!) years of being together and I am just so grateful that we grew together and not apart.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom looking at me and telling me “You really have no idea what love really is just yet”. I was probably ten or eleven at the time and I swore that I did. How could I not? Love seems like one of the easiest, most natural things in the world. “But, I do know because I love you!” I said to her. Little did I know how much truth there really was in her words! Love is the best, but it’s just not up to par without lots of hard work. At least, that’s how I see it now, at 29. Who knows what my take will be ten, twenty, or even thirty more years from now?

Lots of people think that Valentine’s Day is cheesy, or that it’s an excuse to go out to eat (I’ve been guilty of both the former the latter), but I think what it really is, is a good day to reflect on the love you have in your life and to be intentionally grateful for it. It’s also a really good day to eat a heart shaped pizza, which is what we will be doing tonight! See, I wanted a fancy dinner out when I was twenty years old…but at twenty-nine I prefer to avoid crowds on big holidays like this and a $12 pizza is just fine by me. Times change, people change. The only thing that doesn’t change is that we all need a little love in our lives to get by 😉


I really love this post and the way you express your love and gratitude for your husband. We’re celebrating our 14th Valentine’s Day together, and our relationship has evolved so much since we met when I was 19. It’s really amazing sometimes to look back on the years we’ve spent together.

P.S. We’re also ordering in tonight, because really, who wants to spend such a romantic night squeezed into a restaurant with a hundred other people?

2016 Wedding Favorites

After over 800 blog posts in almost six years, my yearly wrap up posts are always the hardest to write! The truth is, I have about a hundred favorite images from each of our 23 weddings from last year. Sadly, no one would want to look at a blog post with 2300 images (and it probably would take about an hour and a half to fully load anyway…) so I’m given the task of trying to narrow things down into a very small selection of our work from last year.

Having a lot of wonderful photos to narrow down is one of the best problems and it’s a great indicator of a good season! We’re so grateful for all of the people we got to work with last year and to their friends and families for letting us be a part of their weddings. Looking through the photos I chose for this post makes me so excited for what’s to come in the year ahead! I can’t wait for the 2017 season to kick off!

If you’re interested in working with us, we have a select few 2017 dates left and are currently booking for 2018! Please contact us for more information!


Katie!!! What a beautiful year! I also love how many of your brides had flower crowns. So beautiful. It definitely seems like you’ve found your ideal client, there’s so much consistency here not only in your work but their style. I can’t wait to see what this year brings for you!

Oh my, what a beautiful year!! So many pretty brides and bouquets! Your work is absolutely dreamy!

What a lovely roundup and year of weddings, Katie! I’m excited to see more of your beautiful captures from 2017. <3

How I Prepare to Have My Photo Taken

One thing that surprises a lot of people about me is that I actually hate having my photo taken. It’s not that I don’t love photos and that I don’t understand how important it is to have them taken….it’s that I don’t always love how I look in them. And sometimes, to be completely honest, the experience itself can be awkward!

For our clients, I work really hard to create an experience that feels more casual than the stiff, traditional portraits of the past and I spend time giving direction rather than posing. There’s nothing worse than showing up to have your photos taken and not knowing what to do with your hands…or your face! Do you smile or not??

For myself, on occasions when we’re going to have our photos taken, I do a few things to make sure that I feel and look my best before the shoot. I’ve learned after several experiences in front of the camera that the extra bit of preparation DOES make a difference in both how I feel during the shoot itself and how the final product turns out! Since photos are such a big investment and they are something that will be around for a bit, I think it really does make sense to put in a bit of prep work to make sure that they turn out their best!

Here are some ideas of a few things I normally do before having photos taken that you can do to prepare for your turn in front of the camera!

Photo by Ashley Goodwin

Two – three weeks before the shoot:

I get my hair cut and colored (but not RIGHT before the shoot)
The key here is to get your hair cut and colored a couple of weeks before your photos so that you’re looking fresh but the color and cut have had a chance to grow/settle in a little bit!

I buy a flattering outfit that makes me feel good, is appropriate for the setting and vibe of the shoot
Like I mentioned before, I think a photo shoot is a really good excuse to splurge a little bit. If you’re looking for a reason to buy a new outfit, a portrait session is a great one! You’ll be looking at your photos for years to come and you want to be able to look back and not be distracted by the fact that you hate what you wore or that it wasn’t necessarily as flattering as it could have been. I take the weeks before a session to brainstorm and shop for outfits that not only flatter my shape but also complement the nature of the shoot. For example, when we went to Hawaii, I searched for a maxi dress (which I found at and a bikini because I wanted something that felt at home in a tropical environment. When we had our anniversary session with Katelyn James back in 2013, I picked an outfit that matched the urban vibes of the city we were shooting in! Both of the dresses I picked for those shoots are nicer versions of things I would ordinarily wear…and they’ve become wardrobe staples that I’ve worn many times since!

Photo by Katelyn James

The week of the shoot:

I schedule a hair appointment
This is separate from the hair cut/color list item because I think having your hair professionally styled before your shoot is a great idea! No matter how good I get with my curling iron, I can never quite get on the level of my hair stylist’s blowout. Although you might not want a super formal hairstyle, there are lots of blow-dry bars popping up everywhere! Your regular salon might offer this service as well. For our promo film with Josh Gooden, I actually hired a hair stylist to come and do my hair at my apartment before we started shooting and it was worth every penny! I look like a more polished version of myself in the film!

I go for a manicure (and a pedicure if my feet will be seen)
Little details like this really do matter and I always feel like any excuse for a little bit of pampering is a good one! Don’t be afraid to go bold with your color choices! I love a neutral manicure, but bright red nails are also always a winner.

I cut back on salt
If you’re a lady and you’re reading this, you probably know where this is going. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling bloated the day of a photo shoot! Cutting back on salt in the few days before will help ensure that you’re not retaining any extra water leading up to the session and in turn, help you feel less bloated and uncomfortable.

I stay hydrated
Cutting salt and staying hydrated go hand in hand when it comes to combatting bloat, but drinking lots of water will also help ensure your skin is clearer and you look more radiant!

I avoid alcohol
For the exact reasons listed above…i.e. bloating, skin, etc.

Photo by Ashley Goodwin

The day of the shoot:

I get in a workout that morning
Maybe this is a sign I’m becoming slightly fitness obsessed, but I like to exercise the morning I’m having my photo taken, not only because it gets the blood flowing, but because working certain parts of your body will cause the muscles to pump up a bit and look more defined. I usually choose to incorporate some type of upper body movements into this pre-shoot workout.

I keep my schedule pretty clear
The day of your shoot is not the day to schedule all of your errands! I have shown up to a shoot super frazzled before after running all over town and it’s just not the best experience. I try to keep things pretty low-key and stress-free if possible so that I have plenty of time to get ready and prepare myself so when I arrive, I can focus on enjoying the shoot!

I leave home with plenty of cushion time
Remember what I said earlier about not wanting to feel frazzled? The biggest thing that frazzles me is TRAFFIC!! Being on time for a portrait session is incredibly important because sunlight only lasts for so long and I know that our photographer has timed out the timing of the shoot for a reason…that beautiful light! If we are late we’ll not only arrive feeling super stressed and possibly have to rush to get through all of the shots we need, we will also potentially end up with fewer photos because we lost time with the light! Giving yourself a buffer is everything!

I plan something fun for right afterward.
Okay, I don’t always do this, but…I SHOULD. Since you’re already all dolled up right after a shoot, I think it’s fun to go out for dinner and drinks or something else! Use the time right after your engagement or anniversary session to have a nice date night!!

Photos are an investment, so I think it’s important to do a little bit of prep work beforehand to ensure that you get the most out of your session! Every time I’ve put in a little work before my photos, I’ve been so happy with how they turned out! I hope this helps give you an idea of some things you can do to prepare for your photos!!


Off Season Projects

Though I know busy season is right around the corner (I can feel it especially well, thanks to these beautiful 70 degree days!!), it’s still off season for now. Busy season can be so, well, busy, that it’s important to really do our best to maximize our off season and get the most out of it that we can. In addition to meeting with lots of new and potential clients, I’ve been working on a lot of behind the scenes things. Here are a few of the projects I’ve been up to this off season!

 Pre-prepping client gifts and packages
One of the things that I have struggled with over the past couple years is finding a really good system for my client gifts and packaging! It ends up being such a huge project when I’ve already got a million other things going on. I’ve been trying to come up with a good solution to make this process simpler and I think I’ve finally come up with something. Pre-packaging some of the items that I send seems to help a lot! I know I’ll be glad I took the time to do this when busy season rolls around again!

Watching free webinars and reading blog posts on topics of interest
The sudden influx of so many free webinars is for sure a sign of how the industry changes so quickly. A year or two ago, webinars weren’t really a thing in the creative/photography industry, but now they are EVERYWHERE. I don’t see that as a bad thing though…for the most part, they’re completely free education! Whether or not their content is actually helpful is another story, but if you seek out webinars on things you are interested in and devote an hour to it and learn one or two things, you still come out ahead! These are not a bad way to spend a lunch break or an hour out of the afternoon, depending on what you choose to check out.

Reading business books
Right now I’m working on a book called “Everybody Writes because I think writing is so essential to running a business. I write blog posts, of course, but I also write emails, social media updates, website copy, etc. Writing is a huge key to how I market the business! I feel that if this book helps me become a stronger writer, it will also help my brand presence become stronger as well!

Researching new social media strategies
It used to be that social media platforms were pretty simple to figure out. Before algorithms and the push to purchase advertising, things were so much easier! Now you have to figure out strategies to get the most out of each platform…what times are the best to post? What type of content is the most engaging? Do I post a link with a photo, or a photo with a link??

Optimizing for better SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is so SO important in my mind. People can’t find you and fall in love with your work unless you make it easy for them! How many times have you done a google search and looked past the first one or two items that pop up? I’m making SEO a huge part of my goals for the year because I think it’s incredibly important.

Preparing my taxes for 2016
This is forever one of my beginning of the year projects! It’s not the most fun, but oddly enough it’s not my least favorite thing to do either. I do really enjoy looking at the numbers and getting a very clear picture of how the business did in the last year!

Updating contracts, pricing, website, questionnaires, etc
What better way to start out a new year than by giving things a little bit of a refresh? I’ve been going through things like contracts and questionnaires looking for things to cut out or add and I’ve been trying to come up with ways to showcase the ways that we serve our clients and what sets us apart when it comes to my website and pricing guide. This slower time of year has been a great time to experiement with that!

Blogging my heart out
I used to be a 5 day a week blogger, but I really want to focus more on QUALITY vs QUANTITY, so I’ve dropped down to 2-3 posts a week in order to both still maintain a schedule, but also to not feel pressured to write just anything. It’s incredibly important to me to come up with my own unique content, so I have been using this time to write out a lot of ideas and pre-write some posts. The book I mentioned earlier, “Everybody Writes” says in order to get better as a writer, you’ve got to do it every day. Without as much on my plate right now, I’m able to commit more time to working on this and I think it’s been great so far!

Submitting my work from 2016
Last year, I did not make submitting my work a priority at all. I think I maybe submitted two things?!? In prior years I submitted almost everything I shot. It challenged me as a growing photographer to shoot with a submission in mind and it really did help boost my SEO results! Now that I have time, I’m hoping to get through all of the weddings I’d like to submit from last year before moving on to engagement sessions.

(I just want to note really quickly that while getting featured is fun and it’s always exciting, that’s not the real reason to keep submitting your work! I’m writing a blog post about why this is still such a good business move and I’ll share it soon!!)

Taking stock photos for future blog posts
I’ve been working on this because I KNOW it will make my life so much easier when the last thing I want to do is style office supplies, take photos, and edit them for a SINGLE blog post. It’s so much easier to do a bunch of different photos all in one day and have them waiting for the perfect post in a folder on my hard drive. Work smarter, not harder, yall.

Spending more time cultivating relationships around me
Networking is just not really my thing. I do love having industry friends, though….I love being able to bounce ideas off of them, being able to commiserate about some of the less glam parts of our jobs. These are my people, my coworkers! When it’s busy season it’s harder to get calendars aligned, so I’ve tried to really make it a point to get together with people now, while it’s a bit quieter.

Packing to move
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much publicly, but we are moving again! Instead of moving right in the middle of one of my busiest months like we did last year, we’re moving in March instead. I’m currently working on going through every room in our home looking for things to purge. I’m on a big “out with the old, in with the new” kick right now. My theory is, anything we don’t love should go so that it can be replaced at some point with something we actually do love. Moving is always such a big project, but I’m thankful to not have to do it during busy season…and to have a husband who is not recovering from surgery this year! (knock on wood…shhh!)

That’s not quite an exhaustive list of what I’ve been up to, but writing some of the things on my project list down has made me realize that maybe off season isn’t really that much of a slow season…it’s just a different type of season. At any rate, this year’s off season has been so productive and I’m looking forward to a great busy season!

If you’re a small business owner and you’ve been interested in working with me on a mentoring session, Skype mentoring sessions are currently $50 off til Valentine’s Day! Email me for details.


Favorite Unscripted Moments of 2016

For the last few years, in addition to my annual favorite detail and wedding image posts, I’ve curated one of my favorite unscripted moments too. You might be wondering “Why another post instead of just putting them all together into one?”. I think that each component of the wedding day is important (details, portraits, etc) but I think that candid, “unscripted” moments are the glue that bind things together. They’re what makes the story of a wedding day a real life story and not just a series of pretty photos strung together. They’re what give a wedding day gallery true meaning!

Often these unscripted moments don’t get as much time to shine as the portraits posed in just the right light or the details that were styled “just so” for that perfect photo, but I’m excited to share some of the moments that I loved from last year with you guys today!

I loved the look that Laura and her mom shared as the final touches were put on her gown!

Brett’s dance with his mom during his reception was one of the sweetest things I’ve seen at a wedding! I don’t think I saw a dry eye in the house!

Beth and Mike’s heartfelt ceremony was so sweet!

I secretly love it when the groom cries when he does a first look with his bride. James’ reaction to Emily was my favorite! He couldn’t get over her beautiful gown!

Emilee and Jonathan’s first dance was to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King, which was awesome to begin with, but their dance was adorable too!

This image still brings a tear to my eye! Nick and Robyn and Nick’s daughter all shared an emotional moment right after the ceremony. They all share so much love and you can feel it in this image!

How pumped were Sarah and Brett were to enter their reception??

I loved Starski’s reaction to Jessi’s vows at their ceremony!

How cute are Amie and Chris??

David and Abby radiated joy during their ceremony exit!!

I didn’t get to see the outcome of this selfie, but I have a feeling it was pretty fantastic…

John’s reaction to seeing Christine for the first time was priceless!!

Best reception entrance ever!

I’ll end with this one because it’s one of my all time favorite first look images…geez, is it dusty in here, or is there something in my eye??


Oh my goodness, I love these sooo much! I love that you gave these moments their own blog post. It shows that you are really great at capturing those candids too!

All the feels! Absolutely gorgeous, Katie!

What a beautiful post, Katie!!!! Love these so much — and that final first look photo is to die for!