Sometimes I forget how lucky I am when I’m invited to make images of a new beginning. Returned late last night from Boulder and couldn’t wait to share one of my favorites from Patrick and Hsiao-Ling’s intimate wedding at the Lionsgate Center.
Come and see!
Titus and I met like most young foreign travelers do in Israel- in a hostel. We were assigned the same room as a few other backpackers, and had a couple friendly exchanges- mostly about where we were from, what we were planning on seeing in Nazareth, and where we were going. He was a German learning Hebrew to become a missionary, and I was just about to start on my 4-day hike from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee.
It was nice meeting him, but you meet SO many people as a hostel-rat that after a while, you begin forgetting and mixing people up. So 3 weeks later, when I was in a busy Jerusalem market and heard my name behind me being called, I thought surely no one is calling my name in a foreign city. I didn’t turn around. I heard it again. Ignored it. But the adage of the 3rd time being the charm is true- I heard it once more and peeked around my shoulder to find, yes, Titus shouting and waving.
I saw him with this girl attached at the hip, and to be embarrassingly truthful, I had no idea who they were. I WILL say that I didn’t recognize Titus because the last time I saw him, he was by himself, so the girl threw me off completely.
As soon as it had occurred to me that it was Titus and his girlfriend, we hit it off immediately. We spent the evening chatting on a rooftop in Jerusalem watching the sun set, and they joked about how cool it would be if I could be their wedding photographer one day. Little did we all know that God’s sense of humor is a lot funnier than ours. Here’s the Polaroid I took of the two of them on the rooftop:
Half a year later, and here I was celebrating the beautiful picnic wedding with Silja and Titus in Rauenstein, Germany. There was a geocache game for the family members to look for the key to the treasure box of wedding rings the day before the wedding to break the ice, followed up with incredible barbeque washed down with Bavarian beer, a fire lantern that literally crashed and burned, a (REAL) donkey for the kids, and a blanket for everyone to soak up the sun on. It was the kind of wedding that I want to have when that time comes. So so good. Congratulations Silja and Titus!
Wow 2014! that went by quick.
By the end of every year, I often think- “well damn, I sure hope this next year is better than the last”. But 2014 has been a positively stark contrast compared to years past. And since 2014 was also unofficially the Year of Buzzfeed, I compiled my own list called:
1. 2014 was the first full calendar year that I was a full time photographer and nothing else.
When I first started photographing professionally, I was also teaching middle school math and studying for my Master’s Degree in Urban Education at UC Denver. However, with less than a year left of my degree, photography really started taking off and I had no choice but to drop out and just continue teaching and photographing. The choice of transition from being a full time teacher AND photographer to JUST a full time photographer happened in May 2013, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
2. I photographed my first international wedding, and in half a dozen other states.
Lucky me! In 2014 I photographed a backyard wedding in California, a small-town wedding in Florida, a college-chapel wedding in Texas, a ranch wedding in Minnesota, a picnic wedding in Germany, an intimate and luscious Washington wedding, a same-sex wedding a week after the CO same-sex marriage law passed, and in between all of those were weddings sprinkled all over CO from the giant Rockies to the vast Eastern plains.
3. Hiked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked around Europe.
A day after photographing the marriage of Silja and Titus in Rauenstein, Germany, I hopped on a few dozen trains and planes- celebrated the German victory in the World Cup in Halle, lost all of my cash in Berlin, met up with a friend in Paris, hiked with her on the Spanish Camino, celebrated the Day of Santiago with people all over the world in Santiago, drank a little more than a sip of port wine in Porto, marveled at the combination of old and new of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, devoured the steaks and history of Florence, hiked between the rugged beaches of Cinque Terre, and got WAY lost in the canals of Venice before I hopped onto the last train through the Eastern Alps and planed it back home to the Colorado Rockies.
4. Got a killer magazine placement in my first commercial shoot.
A good friend of mine owns Armed with Truth, a company that sells temporary tattoos for Christian scripture memorization. So when he asked me to photograph for an ad in Relevant Magazine, we talked it over burgers and beer at BJ’s Brewhouse, sketched it out on a napkin and made it happen the next day. The end product was 4 images stitched together to get the best expression from each person. Relevant Magazine thought it was good enough to place it on their back inside cover not once, but TWICE! Photo cred: Armed with Truth
5. Got featured in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
My trip to Israel was documented by PBS, so the local newspaper interviewed me about what brought me there, what I learned, and where I’m at now. They did a great job with their article. Photo cred: Brittni Tucker
6. Helped an old lady cross the street.
Not really. An elderly military widow found a 4 x 5 film negative of her deceased husband, which was the only photo of her husband in full military uniform, and she couldn’t find anyone that had the right equipment to have it scanned and printed for her. So when my friend Whitney shared the story with me, I knew I could help and it got featured in this local CBS segment here. Photo cred: KKTV
7. Featured on PBS.
As stated in #5, my journey to Israel in the Fall of 2013 was documented by PBS in a series called Sacred Journeys. I went because my dad had passed away unexpectedly that year, and I knew I wanted to take a soul-searching trip. The series page is here, where you can find my episode (Jerusalem) being streamed free for a couple more weeks, and the other 5 pilgrimages as well.
8. Started shooting film in professional work.
I started shooting film on my dad’s old Minolta X-7A 35mm in my college Color Film class. But I always stuck with digital for professional work, particularly for the ease in the workflow. Up until late 2013, film and polaroids were strictly reserved for personal work while digital was for putting food on the table. It wasn’t until 2014 that I realized that I shot film for personal work because I loved the way it made me work, and there’s no denying the unique real-film look. So why should I reserve my best work for myself? Since that realization, I’ve been shooting hybrid as much as I could, and is one of my goals for every outdoor engagement session and wedding in 2015.
9. Best year of personal work- so far!
In 2014, I photographed half a dozen shoots just for myself. Just to feed my creative spirit, to create images with no intention of making any money off of them. Creating something better every time I picked up my camera was an obsession that seeped out of my personal work and into my work work. More and more often, I was finding myself growing increasingly proud of the work I was producing in each successive shoot. I once thought I’d lose my passion for photography the more I got into it- but 2014 was the best yet!
10. Got featured by Indie Film Lab.
Speaking of personal work, which I occasionally post on my Instagram, I had one of my photos featured by Indie Film Lab- arguably the best film lab in the country, and one of the best in the world. Talk about a highlight! I was on Cloud 9 for a good month.
11. Photographed one of the first same-sex weddings in CO.
Same-sex marriages were legalized in Colorado on Tuesday October 7th, 2014. Not a week later on that Saturday, Barb and Malia of Colorado Springs got married. This was after more than a decade of them being together, not thinking they’d ever be able to raise their little boy as an officially married couple. I’m proud to say that their wedding was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever had the honor of photographing- I didn’t stop smiling during the entire ceremony.
The day after Thanksgiving, I hopped on a flight to Haiti. VisionTrust is a Christian organization that supports orphans around the world, and Help-Portrait is an organization that helps people have a professionally taken picture who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a photographer because they believe that “A Picture is Worth”. This trip was a special partnership between the two organizations, where I joined a small team of photographers and made portraits of a few hundred Haitian orphans. The fight for a higher standard of living and self-sustaining economy is still very much being fought down there. I felt heart-broken, but privileged, to meet and be a voice for my brothers and sisters down there. Photo cred: Steve Biers.
13. Asked to write a book.
I’m not sure how much I’d like to share of this yet, but I was approached by a book agency to write a book about my journey in Israel. A memoir of sorts, that’s really more about how I chose to handle the loss of my dad than Israel in particular. Initially, the idea didn’t appeal to me- but a good friend of mine asked if I’d regret the decision in 5 years, and I knew immediately that I would. If anything, I’d love to pass something so special to me on to my future kids and my kids’ kids.
14. Really started photographing commercially.
I’ve been photographing for the Colorado Springs Conservatory since the beginning of 2013, but I’ve since been able to really start ramping up non-wedding work so that I can really commit as much time and energy to the couples I’m photographing, and not risk burning out on wedding photography. That’s opened doors to photographing everything from a CD cover, to Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, to a new marketing strategy for CCU. It’s been a ton of fun and can’t wait to see what else is in store in the future.
It’s not a stretch for me to say that 2014 was the best year I’ve ever had- here’s to making it the second best after 2015. Cheers!
Emily and Sean. :) What a pleasure.