I loved the film and digital photography classes I took in college so much, I decided to declare photography as my second major (along with interpersonal communication - because I love meeting new people and hearing their stories). I knew photography was my passion, but I never really thought of it being a career for myself. As my passion for photography grew, I wanted more of it in my life, as opposed to it being something I did just ’on the side.’ I was feeling called to do more of it, as often as I could.
But after shooting one particular engagement session, the couple sent me the most special note that changed my path forever. They thanked me for our time together and told me I was able to connect with them in a way they've never experienced... and that our session brought the two of them closer together than they had been in a long time.
That being said… for the longest time, I would psyche myself out from even starting my business. I’d tell myself "ugh, there are a million photographers out there, the world doesn't need one more" (in regards to myself). Or things like “you take good photos, but so do a lot of other people.” So I continued to run my little non-business on the side, barely even telling people ‘I’m a photographer’ in response to that dreaded question, “so, what do YOU do?”
Ever since that moment, I've been operating with a completely transformed mindset. The mindset of "everyone connects to the people they meet differently... and nobody in this world can connect with others the way I do (and vice versa! There's only one YOU!)" I think by simply being my authentic self (which includes being ridiculously, genuinely happy for my couples), it allows my couples to feel like they can do the same, which is my number one goal.
It was 2014. I was living in Minnesota, and I had just quit a corporate job I absolutely hated. I had no idea what I was going to do next, I booked a trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to visit my big brother before facing that reality.
My brother was so sweet - he got a group of his closest friends together to go on a camping trip just to make my first trip to Colorado extra special… And one of those friends was Buddy. Buddy and my brother had each adopted puppies from the same litter (Pike & Louie!), and had been spending lots of time together playing with and training the pups.
The group was all sitting around the campfire when Buddy noticed Louie had wandered off. Buddy said he was going to go look for him, and without even thinking, I blurted out, ‘I’ll come too!’ My inherently-introverted self was screaming on the inside… Where the heck did that come from!? Mind you, I was in my brother’s clothes from head to toe… hat, jacket, sweatpants, and boots. Oh, and it was raining. Not exactly a glamorous look. But there we were, just the two of us, wandering around Routt National Forest together, searching for LouDog. Buddy had me laughing the entire time, and he would offer his hand to me whenever we reached steep pitches in the mountainside (wearing boots 4 sizes too big for your feet isn’t conducive to stealthy climbing). After more laughing, talking, and wandering, we eventually found Louie and made it back to the campsite with the rest of the group. I’m not sure how much time had passed during our search for LouDog, but that was the moment I knew Buddy was somethin’ special.
After that life-changing trip, I flew back to Minnesota, and Buddy stayed in Colorado… But we talked every single day, and had planned my next trip out to visit for a month later. Buddy drove all the way from Steamboat to Denver to pick me up at Denver International Airport, then drove us both all the way back to Steamboat… In 4th of July traffic! It took us 9 hours to get from DIA to Steamboat, which is usually a 3 hour drive. Now we both joke that it sure is a good thing we liked each other or that 9 hour drive would have been painful.
Lots of phone calls, video calls, and visits back and forth later, it was just over a year from that initial camping trip. Buddy flew to Minnesota to visit me and my family, and we were also planning a road trip to visit his mom in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before both driving back out to Colorado together, for good. We were enjoying lake life in the UP, had gotten off the boat for some lunch, and Buddy and I were walking to the garage to get some more beverages… When I turned around from the fridge, Buddy was on one knee (and I was holding a bunch of Bud Lights). I don’t really remember what he said, but I do remember I was so shocked and surprised, I continuously said ‘NO! NO!’ Buddy eventually had to ask, ‘so, is that a yes??’ OF COURSE IT WAS!! Apparently Buddy had sneakily talked to both of my parents before we drove to visit his mom in Michigan and gotten their blessing before asking me to marry him. We celebrated that weekend with both Buddy’s and my family, and then we packed up the car and drove out to Colorado - as fiancé’s!
Buddy and I both knew we wanted our wedding day to be primarily outside - where we both feel our best. Colorado holds a special place in our hearts, and we already had the support of so much family who lived there, so it felt like a no-brainer to get married there. We wanted our day to feel effortlessly us - unfussy, relaxed, busting at the seams with love, and a heck of a good time. We got married in the absolutely stunning Catholic Church in Steamboat (where Buddy was baptized), and then had our reception on his family’s property outside of town. We had a local pizza truck make pizzas to order for our guests, our best friends bartend the open bar, and a DJ who we informed would be overruled by my college friends’ requests for Beyonce all night long. Despite the rain/sleet combo we had all day long, it was still the best day ever. To this day, we are still eternally grateful for our guests who changed out of their formal church attire and into waterproof camping gear to party on with us despite the less-than-ideal conditions. I don’t remember what color the linens were, and I don’t think Buddy and I gave a speech, but I do remember our families and friends worked their butts off to help us pull off the backyard wedding of our dreams, that certainly wouldn’t have come together without them. I’ve never felt surrounded by more love than that week of my life. It’s honestly a major part of why I love photographing weddings so dang much - the love that surrounds the couple during this special chapter of their lives is unmatched. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting me be a part of it!