Patrick & Chazilyn- Styled Shoot {Phoenix Wedding Photographer}

Recently I put together some styled bridal shoots.  I love them because I am able to pick out and plan every detail.  Even though that can get a bit overwhelming, it’s still such a blast to see all the pieces come together.  For this shoot I wanted to do a more natural, earthy, but with a touch of glam.  So I knew The Desert Botanical Garden would be the perfect location!  I couldn’t have done it without some amazing people!  Florals by Hoot & Holler.  Dress from Suzanne’s Bridal Boutique.  Hair and makeup by Jenny Brown.  And of course this beautiful couple, Patrick and Chazilyn.

5 Things I Would Re-do If I Got Married Again: Engagement Session

Welcome to this 5 week blog series on the things I would re-do if I got married again.  It’s been 9 years since I got married and when I look back at my wedding day, there’s not much I would change.  Everything went as planned and it was a super fun and smooth day.  Although, now that I’m on the other end of the camera, there are a few things I would do different that would enhance our images.

If you missed previous posts in the series, check it out here:
5 Things I Would Re-do if I Got Married Again- First Look

Do An Engagement Session

When I got married we didn’t have our wedding photographer take engagement pictures of us.  Having her take them would have been nice for two reasons:

1. To get comfortable with our photographer
2. To have a variety of images for invitations, guestbooks and save the dates

As a photographer, I feel so strongly about the importance of engagement sessions.  I was talking with a colleague the other day about engagement sessions and her and I like to think of the engagement session as the second date in our client/photographer relationship.  Our first date was the initial consultation where we spent time getting to know each other.  The second date (engagement session) we are already acquainted with each other, so we can pick up where we left off.  We will be able to get to know each other even more during the engagement session.  This helps create trust between us and that trust helps create ease and comfortability when you’re in front of my camera on your wedding day.  When our third date (wedding day) comes, you will hopefully be more comfortable with me than our first date, which will help you to relax and that will translate through to the images.  After all, I will be with you the majority of the wedding day, so having a photographer you know and trust is always a plus, especially since I’ll be the person in the room documenting the bride slipping into her wedding dress!

Engagement sessions also help the guys to relax and get comfortable being in front of the camera.  From what I hear, most guys aren’t super excited to get pictures taken whether it’s the engagement session or the wedding.  Doing the engagement session helps the guys see that I strive to make this an easy, enjoyable and painless time.  So many times after a session I have heard from the guys “That wasn’t bad” or “Thanks for making that painless”.  So now that they experienced being in front of my camera for engagement pictures, they will not dread “picture time” on the wedding day because they already know what to expect.

The second reason I love engagement sessions is so you can have images to create some fun and unique things for your wedding!  Some of my favorites are guestbooks and save-the-dates.

I love this guest book!  It’s custom designed with lots of white space to give your guests room to sign something more personal than just their name.  When I got married, we just had a book with lines in it, nothing fancy or cute like this!  If I had this, I would totally display it in my home!

These save the dates are fun too!  A custom designed card using engagement images… your guests will love opening the envelop and seeing your faces!

Want to see some cute engagement sessions?  Check out these ones:
Josh & Megan at Papago Park
Anthony & April in Downtown Phoenix
Dallas & Emily in Downtown Tempe

5 Things I Would Re-do If I Got Married Again: First Look

Welcome to this 5 week blog series on the things I would re-do if I got married again.  It’s been 9 years since I got married and when I look back at my wedding day, there’s not much I would change.  Everything went as planned and it was a super fun and smooth day.  Although, now that I’m on the other end of the camera, there are a few things I would do different that would enhance our images.

One of the things I would plan differently if I could redo my wedding is a first look. My husband and I got married in 2006, back when first looks weren’t that popular. I remember talking about it with our photographer and she highly recommended it, but when it came down to it, my husband and I decided against doing a first look, and I actually don’t even remember why. That meant bridal party pictures, family pictures, and pictures of just the two of us all had to be taken after the ceremony.  And that’s just what we did.  By the time we got to the pictures of just the two of us, the sun was setting and we didn’t have that beautiful golden hour of light for pictures of just us!  So in hindsight, I would totally do a first look so I could have gotten more images of just my husband and I together, since those were the most important to me, and so I could have spent more time with him on that day.

I photograph lots of couples who decided to do a first look and the experience is amazing for them.  I think some couples think doing a first look will detract from the feelings and emotions of seeing each other for the first time coming down the aisle. I’ve never seen a first look detract fom the “traditional” wedding day experience.  But since I didn’t do a first look, I asked one of my couples, Dallas & Emily, if they felt a first look took away from seeing each other at the altar. Here’s what they had to say:

Dallas & Emily’s First Look.  They held balloons in front of themselves and then released them to see each other for the first time!

Are you glad you did a first look (as opposed to seeing each other for the first time coming down the isle)? If so, why? Yes! It was nice to see each other first because it calmed our nerves. It also gave us a more intimate first look. It was nice to be able to see how beautiful she looked before everyone else got to see. 

Did seeing each other before the ceremony detract from seeing each other coming down the aisle? It was still just as exciting to go through that moment, but seeing each other first helped control emotions a little bit.

From a grooms perspective, what did you think of the first look experience? I liked having the first look for another reason, schedule. Having the first look that lead straight into pictures allowed us to be able to mingle with friends and family at cocktail hour. After the ceremony the whole wedding flies by so quickly every minute together counts.

I love that they said “…the whole wedding flies by so quickly every minute together counts” because it’s so true! There are months poured into all the details of planning your dream day, and when it finally arrives, it goes by fast.  My husband is my best friend and I would have loved to have more time with him on the most important day of our lives, so I could talk with him, hug him, and just be around him as the excitement of exchanging our vows grew.  If I had done a first look, I would have been able to spend more time with him on our wedding day!

Also, I realize that when I ask couples if they know what a first look is and if they would be open to doing one many of them don’t know exactly what it is or how it’s set up. So let me tell you how I coordinate a first look.  I strive to make this an intimate time between the bride and groom.  We start by bringing the groom to the location we want to do the first look. We place him with his back turned.  We then escort the bride to where we want her.  Then once my second shooter and I are in our spots we tell the bride to walk to her groom. Seeing the anticipation in both their faces is one of the best parts of the day.  As she gets closer to her groom, we will do one of two things – tell the groom to turn around so he can see his bride walking toward him or we have him wait with his back facing her until she taps him on the shoulder for him to turn around. Once he turns around they will see each other for the first time! While this is going on my second shooter and I are photographing from a distance paparazzi style. I love all the expressions we capture when the groom turns around and sees his bride for the first time. This is a special time between the two them where they are able to hug each other and kiss and talk. The groom can spin his bride around and check out her beautiful gown that she put so much time into finding. The bride can whisper in her grooms ear telling him how handsome he looks and then they can embrace and relish in the euphoric emotions of seeing the love of their life for the first time on their wedding day. It’s so fun to see couples interact during this time – something that wouldn’t be able to happen if they saw each other for the first time at the altar.

Now that I’m on the other side of the camera I highly recommend a first look to all my clients. Not only does it help create a smooth timeline for the wedding day but there are other “pros” to having the first look:

-We’re able to get bridal party and family pictures all done before the ceremony. Groomsmen like this because it means they can get to the bar quickly and enjoy cocktail hour after the ceremony instead of taking more pictures. Bridesmaids like this because that’s when their hair and make up is fresh and their feet aren’t hurting yet. Families like it because they can greet all their guests right after the ceremony during cocktail hour instead of having to go away for more pictures.

-The brides hair and makeup are fresh!

-It helps calm pre-ceremony jitters.  I hear from brides & grooms (when photographing them getting ready) how nervous they are, but the moment they see each other during that first look all the jitters and nervousness melts away!

-Right after the ceremony we whisk the two of you away to take the very first pictures of the two of you as husband and wife… as husband and wife!

I also want to mention that if you have a deeply rooted conviction about not doing a first look, I totally respect that! We will create a timeline that does not include a first look and you will still get great images from your day!

Andy’s reaction when he turned around and saw his bride for the first time is priceless.  One of my favorite “First Looks” ever!


Tune in next week for the second post in this series on hiring a makeup artist.

New Wedding Website Design

I’m so excited that my new wedding website is officially live!  You can check it out HERE!  There is a simple mobile version and the full version can be viewed on a desktop, so make sure to check it out on all devices!

I started this website design process by coming up with a few words that describe my photography style and my design style.  I went through this same process with my senior website and that site encompasses everything I’m about.  So I really wanted my wedding website to do the same and be reflective of my photography style and my personality.  When I was thinking of this website design, I wanted it to be clean and simple yet still have an editorial vibe.

I wanted to add a little graphic to my logo to help incorporate a more editorial feel.  I decided on a black box with a white SP.  The funny thing is, years ago, I worked as a graphic designer and I used to create logos and branding materials for photographers.  I would help them create their visual brand and designed printed pieces for their business.  So I thought this brand re-fresh that I wanted to do would come easy….I was wrong…it did not, ha!!!  But after months of pondering and praying, it finally came together! I didn’t want to re-do my logo altogether as it still fit my senior brand and I didn’t want to change that.  So I just added to it:)

When I photograph a couple I strive to capture three types of images for them: Romantic/sweet, Fun, and Editorial.  So those are they types of images you will see on the site!

I’m so excited for the launch of this new site and all the printed pieces that match the new brand re-fresh!  Thanks for checking it out!


Zoe! {Tempe Senior Photographer}


I loved photographing Zoe!  She is a fun, easy going and natural and she was rocking it out in front of the camera!  I love that she is a triple threat as she acts, she sings and she dances.  I think she can add modeling to her list of many talents!