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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Melissa and Josh in wedded bliss!

This wedding was definitely a first for us.

It was the first time that the bride could shut off all the sprinklers around the entire golf course with a single phone call…

…the first time we walked up to a golf cart and the groom said, “not that one, the batteries are about to go”…

…the first time a bunch of the country club employees were out strutting their stuff on the dance floor…

…and the first time we got to shoot a reception in the “Members Only Club”.

Why all the special privileges?

Because both the bride and the groom work at Ancala Country Club where they got married.

We always get to feel somewhat like VIP’s since we’re part of the exclusive club of people who are at a location to be a part of a wedding… but this one felt like we had our VIP pass along with a special gold sticker on it or something!

Everything and everyone at Ancala bowed before the precious day that was Melissa and Josh’s wedding.  Of course they didn’t have to do this, but everyone loves this couple so much that it was only natural to treat them with a level of holy reverence on their big day!

This day had another special significance for us as well… we got to work with one of our favorite people!  Dawn Candrea (who used to coordinate weddings at Ancala and has since moved over to Arrowhead Country Club) came back over to her old stomping ground to help out her past co-worker and good friend, Melissa. We had a great time working with our old friend, Dawn, and getting the chance to meet the new girl, Jennifer,  at Ancala on the same day!

(Here is Melissa- with her dad and Dawn- getting ready to walk down the aisle …when she first saw the surprise her groom had waiting for her…)(…that’s right, he got her a beautiful horse drawn carriage to take her to and from the ceremony!)

(It was such a thoughtful gift and she loved it!).

Of course Ancala wouldn’t be the same without that beautiful sunset that dazzles in the wide open space that lies just in front of the mountains.

Melissa and Josh meticulously planned the schedule in a way that fit in the sunset shots perfectly because they were fully aware of the potential we have to capture it there!

And capture it we did… the sunset did not disappoint that day!

It was the perfect backdrop to a perfect wedding!

One thing we didn’t expect from this wedding was for Melissa and Josh’s guests to light up the dance floor the way they did.  Those people were glued there!

They danced and danced on that floor until I thought their legs were going to fall off!

(Click to tag yourself in some of the photos on Facebook!).

It was great watching everyone there have an absolutely fabulous time!

Thank you Melissa and Josh for being so easy to work with and for picking us (out of all the photographers you’ve seen shooting at Ancala!) to have the honor of being there for your special day!

We loved getting to know you guys throughout this whole wedding process and we hope you stay in touch and let us know what exciting things await you in your future!


Click to see the rest of Melissa and Josh’s wedding photos.

Alys and Jun’s “Adios Arizona” photo session

Alys and Jun are one of those couples who just make it work… regardless of who lives in what city when!

They met in school while they were both living in Arizona, but Jun recently moved to New York… so very far far away from his sweetheart!

They didn’t let that stop them though!  Alys travels to New York about every 3 weeks to see him and as soon as she’s done with school she’s moving out there permanently to join him.  Ah, true love finds a way!

Jun is currently doing his residency so he has very little time off to visit Alys in AZ, so when he got the chance to come see her, she knew she had to make the most of the visit so she called us to come capture some of their precious time together!

Since this is their last hurrah with the Southwest, we wanted to find a way to incorporate some desert themes into the photos.

We ended up settling on doing a few photos at Scottsdale Civic Center Park to capture a little bit of the southwest feel that’s around the city…

…before heading out to Camelback mountain to get the real live desert in the photos…

…as opposed to the metal cacti that are around old town Scottsdale!

From Alys’s emails we could tell that she seemed pretty cute and energetic.  And yet we were still surprised to find out just how fun and hilarious the two of them were… as individuals and then even more so as a couple!

We had a blast wandering around with them!

When we passed by a new/old cider mill, they decided they wanted to go in and have a rootbeer float…

…when we stood still for more than 2 seconds at a time, Jun decided it was time to pick Alys up…

…when we stopped near a giant boot, what else is there to do but sit on it for a picture?!

Seriously, they were a ton of fun!  Posing wasn’t even an option for them since what they did naturally was the stuff that great pictures are made out of anyways!

Top off their cute interactions together with a little bit of desert charm and we’ve got ourselves the perfect “Adios Arizona” photo session!

Alys and Jun, I hope your West coast to East coast transition goes super smoothly and that you find a ton of things out there that you absolutely love doing together (and I hope you are able to find the time to do them in!).

We really enjoyed working with you guys and we hope your big apple future holds amazing things for you two!  Good luck! 🙂

Click to see the rest of the photos from Alys and Jun’s Adios Arizona photo session!

Kazoos, Ninja Turtles, pinwheels, and goblins… Meg and Mark’s wedding story

We knew as soon as Meg and Mark booked us, that this was not going to be an ordinary wedding.  Meg and Mark both have very unique styles that they show off proudly so we couldn’t wait to see what their big day was going to look like!

For starters, they didn’t rent a very typical wedding venue.  They had the entire event at The Paisley Violin Cafe in downtown Phoenix.

This is not your average cafe’, it has a few distinct features that bring a unique charm to it…. mainly their beautiful back porch, which is where the ceremony was held.

Meg and Mark added to the cafe’s quirky charm by bringing in somewhere between 50-100 handmade (by Meg) pinwheels that were all individually crafted to each look a little bit different.  They were beautiful!

So beautiful in fact that I was dreaming about decorating my house with them right when Meg told me I should take all the left over ones home!

My other favorite detail from their wedding was the STUNNING bouquet that Meg’s mom made her.

It was a combination of tons of antique jewelry and oh WOW, did it shine!!  It was such a perfect fit for Meg!

Meg and Mark went nontraditional for their actual ceremony as well.  Meg’s cousin, Monica, said a few words, prayed, and read a few passages from the Bible before she gracefully stepped down and let Meg and Mark run the rest of their ceremony themselves.

They each asked if the other was willing to devote their life to love, handed one another some rings, kissed, and promptly put kazoos in their mouths to provide their own exit music (with the help of the groomsmen)!

One of the groomsmen, Mike, got himself ordained so that the could sign the paperwork that night to make it all official.

The ceremony ended exactly at 10:10am on 10/10/10.  So I took a picture of the time and date (all 10’s in a row) on the back of Scottie’s camera.

After a brunch reception, Meg and Mark took a break and went over to check into their hotel and prepare to head back over to their “Costume Party Wedding Reception Extravaganza-a-a-a-a” later that night!  That’s right…. reception #2 was a costume party.  How awesome is that?!  Scottie and I went home for a little R&R ourselves before heading over to meet Meg and Mark for a little photo session before the reception.

As luck would have it, just as we began picture time, an ice cream truck drove by!  So yet again, Meg and Mark found a creative way to make their wedding pictures unique.

(This is definitely our first wedding photo that we can attach the words “teenage mutant ninja turtle” to in anyway… let alone to say that the groom was eating one!)

We also had the good fortune of being in Downtown Phoenix where there are interesting features all around!  A little spray paint here… a few bums there (no, we didn’t take any pictures with them!)… it’s Phoenix, dressed in it’s wedding day best!

I don’t even think I need to mention how spectacular the costume party was… but of course I will anyways!  People were ALL decked out!  I’m not sure if their friends are really dedicated to Meg and Mark or just really loyal to Halloween itself, but either way they were in the spirit!

We brought The Radiant Photobooth along with our normal props (and a bunch of Meg’s mixed in) but in this situation, props are hardly even needed!

(click here to like our page so you can tag yourself in the photobooth pictures on Facebook!)

The food was great, the band (What Laura Says) was amazing…

…and all the people were very VERY happy…

…a perfect party.

Meg and Mark, I’m so glad you guys put the time and energy into finding creative ways to showcase your personalities on your wedding day. It was all sooo you!

I loved watching who you are as a couple, take shape in such an experiential way… the location, decorations, music, activities, food, people… all of it felt like it morphed itself into a walking picture of who Meg and Mark are together…. so cool!

Thanks for inviting us to be there… as guests and as photographers… you couldn’t have been easier for us to work with and we couldn’t have been happier to do it for you. 🙂

Congratulations on your new statuses as married people… we love you both!

Click to see the rest of Meg and Mark’s photos here (photobooth pics are also up and available for purchase here).

Bethany and Mike’s “Mexican Jungle Adventure” (aka their Unique Session)

When Bethany & Mike pictured their Radiant Unique Session I’m pretty sure the image in their heads did not consist of giant tarantulas, hundreds of bats, enormous stinging ants, or naked old ladies swimming in the water around them… but that’s what they got.

I guess you never know what’s going to happen when you opt in for Radiant Unique session!

When Bethany first told me they wanted to do a Unique Session in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico (where their wedding was held), we knew immediately that we wanted to get some shots near, around, or in the cenotes that surround the area.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico wedding photographer

A cenote is a fresh, ground water sinkhole and the parts of it that peak out are usually covered by cool cavern walls made of limestone.  In short… these areas are paradise for photographers (or for anyone really… they’re beautiful)!

But what we didn’t know was the stroke of luck that would find us and lead us to one of the best cenote areas in the world…

Mexico cenotes trash the dress photos

…which also happens to be deep in the Mexican jungle…

…which happens to be tarantula infested, snake inhabited, and generally filled with things that most beautiful brides are not looking forward to seeing the day after the wedding (or that any girl on any day wants to see for that matter).

The place where these particularly unbelievable cenotes are is in a little eco-community outside of Playa Del Carmen called “Pueblo Sacbe“. Sacbe is out in the middle of the jungle and populated mostly with expatriates who have built eco friendly houses using natural materials and solar panels.

Mexico wedding photosMexico destination photography

Playa Del Carmen has tons of cenotes, but they are usually full of people. The cenotes in Sacbe are not only private (requiring a pass to get in… which a friend we made in Playa has) but they are particularly stunning ones! We were told that there are lots of photographers who live in that area who are dying to get in there, so we consider ourselves very lucky that we had the opportunity!

The reason we got so lucky is that towards the beginning of our 3 week stay in Mexico we met Nico (the man with the pass) and Tom who run Ah Cult TV in Playa Del Carmen…  and they happen to be awesome.  Tom is originally from Canada and Nico is from Spain and they both moved to Playa after going there for  vacations and never being able to leave (which is actually the same story we heard from every non-Mexican resident that we met there… I guess it’s the kind of place that unexpectedly sucks you in!). Nico has been doing video for many years and when he met Tom in Playa, he found an excellent new business partner.  Now they work together making videos about interesting people, places, and events in their area.  And apparently they considered our photo time with Bethany and Mike to be one of these video worthy events, because they came along on our session and made a “making of” video of it for us!!  Keep a look out on our Facebook page for the video which is coming soon!

We became quick friends with Tom and Nico which I think really happened during our first trip out to Pueblo Sacbe with them. We wanted to tour the place before we took Bethany and Mike there so we could get a feel for the location and plan out the details of our session.

Best playa del carmen wedding photographer

We hopped on a bus and about 30 minutes later, found ourselves wandering through the jungle… passing by a combination of little huts and mansions made out everything from sticks and old coke bottles, to marble and 400 year old Indian wood… that’s how things go in Sacbe.

We saw not only the cenotes, but Mexican hairless dogs, snakes, trees with huge spikes covering the entire trunk, other trees known as “gringo” trees (because the bark turns red and then peels off), and of course all the same creep crawly things I already mentioned that we saw again later on when we brought Bethany and Mike back. If I ever wrote a book called “a day in the lives of Scottie and Breanna” I would seriously consider making it about this day!  Sacbe is quite an interesting place to say the least!

Playa Del Carmen Destination wedding

The next time we went to Sacbe was with our cameras and Bethany and Mike… who were all dressed up in their wedding clothes and ready for some adventure!  Every other sentence out of my mouth the first time we went there was something like “I hope Bethany’s up for this!”.  And when we arrived in Sacbe that day, I was very happy to find that she was very brave and ready for anything!

I’ve mentioned the tarantulas a couple of times now but what I haven’t mentioned is that one of Bethany’s big fears is… you guessed it, spiders.  She told me that on our ride out there and I started praying immediately that we wouldn’t see any of the tarantulas that day (and I definitely didn’t ever mention to her that we did see one… I didn’t want to freak her out before we even got there!). But lo and behold, what was one of the first things she saw as we were posing for her very first shot… the biggest freaking tarantula I have ever seen in my life who was about a foot away from her.

Seriously, that sucker was huge.  I grabbed Bethany and headed over to a different area, just in time to miss Tom saying “watch out, those things jump like a bastard!” (which remained the running joke throughout the rest of the session).

Bethany did amazing and calmed down surprisingly quickly so I took a few shots in another area to distract her from the mayhem that was ensuing while the guys did there best to move the terrifying, jumping bastard out of the way.  We didn’t get any pictures of it because of all the chaos of us trying to get away from it and then of trying to get it away from us, but it’s on the video!

Oh well, Bethany held it together magnificently and it makes for a great story!  What’s a story about a jungle photo session if it doesn’t involve facing your fears a little bit right?!

Tom and Nico brought along a little something called “copal” which is a traditional Mayan incense (it smells great!) that produces a ton of smoke so the effect is similar to dry ice.

It looks amazing and it gave us a small taste of a true Mayan experience (and surprisingly, airport security let it through so we have some at home now!). 🙂

Now we get to the part where Scottie’s lighting genius really shines through (no pun intended!).  I was laughing at him as he was stressing out because he was about to put a bride into the water in her wedding dress (with God knows what swimming around her!) to get one shot that you can’t re-do another day, that needs to be good enough to make it worth her getting her dress wet… all while attempting to light up an entire black cave where the groom was going to stand with hundreds of bats skimming the top of his head.

Not to mention, Scottie was going to have to swim out and place his light stand (expensive flash included) into the middle of the water and hope it was placed right the first time because each time he went out, he kicked up the mud from the bottom of the water and we couldn’t wait for it to settle twice before taking the picture.

Basically a huge feat had to be accomplished as quickly as possible, and Scottie was feeling the pressure!  He always talks about lighting as being more like an art form that needs guessing and finesse, but in this situation he only had time to make it an exact science and hope that his hypothesis was right!

He set it all up and we all silently appealed to the Mayan gods to not let the clouds shift and change the lighting (since that would require starting over, just in time to finish and have the clouds move again so we’d need to change back!).  Well it worked… whatever it was, science, art, prayer, mother nature, Scottie’s quick thinking brain… all of it came together and made this….

Playa Del Carmen cenote photos

…. spectacular.  Good job Scottie, you’re my favorite. 🙂

After all of our time in the jungle, alas our photos were taken and our adventure was coming to an end.  And as it is at the end of any adventure…. we were all starving.  Luckily, Tom and Nico had planned for this.  They had brought all the necessary ingredients to prepare a feast at their friend Bill’s house (which is one of the houses in the eco community we were shooting in). Bill is a guy from Oregon who left his corporate life in America to move out into the jungle to sell solar panels and homemade pizza to his neighbors. Bill has a new brick oven so he spent the morning prepping it while we were shooting so that for lunch he could make us the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life.

Seriously, it was unbelievable pizza and it was a great, relaxing ending to our big adventure. We just sat on his porch with jungle all around us, drinking mango juice, eating fresh pizza, talking with friends, and watching the rain. It was just as perfect as it sounds!  Thanks Bill for welcoming us into your home, letting us wander around attempting to capture all the beauty that is on your property, and for being an all round nice guy who we heartily enjoyed eating pizza with. 🙂

Thank you Nico and Tom for not only being a huge part of what made our trip to Mexico so fun, but also for the many MANY generous things you did for us.  Everything from introducing us to other cool people like Bill, to giving us tips on where to eat, to making an entire freaking cool video of us!!!  I don’t know if you guys will ever know how much your generosity has blessed us.

We feel truly grateful that we ran into such wonderful people as you and that we’ve had such a great example of how to reach out to new people because we now feel better educated on how to make others feel welcome in our own hometown.  You guys taught us a lot about how to love and care for people selflessly… we thank you from the bottom of our toes to the tops of our little photographer heads.  You guys are awesome. 🙂

And thank you Bethany and Mike for bringing us to Mexico and inviting us to take part in this adventure with you.

Thank you for abandoning your dreams for a wedding on 10/10/10 (since we were already booked), and changing your date just so we could shoot your wedding. Thanks for being so incredibly brave and for trusting us to take you somewhere so far outside of your comfort zone. Thanks for all the participation you’ve had in our business (following our photos, attending our classes, etc.)… you guys have been a great encouragement to us. Thanks for being such wonderfully kind people who are a total joy to work with… we couldn’t have asked for a better to couple to experience all of this with.  We’re so glad it was you guys. 🙂  We love you both and we’re are much more than just a little excited to see where you guys go from here! Congratulations.

Click to see the rest of the photos from Mike and Bethany’s “Mexican Jungle Adventure” Unique session.  And click here to read about their wedding in case you missed it!

Bethany and Mike’s dream wedding in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

The more Bethany and Mike searched for their perfect Arizona wedding venue, the more frustrated they became.  When they finally found the place they wanted only to later learn that it was going bankrupt, they said, “screw it, we’re going to Mexico”!

So while choosing Playa Del Carmen, Mexico as the location for their destination wedding came to fruition as a result of frustration… it ended up being just the kind of place they were looking for all along!

Playa Del Carmen weddings

When most people think Mexico, they don’t think trendy restaurants or a worldwide hub for all the coolest people around… but that’s exactly what Playa Del Carmen is!

And since Bethany wanted something more on the modern side, this proved to be the perfect place!

Bethany and Mike got married at the Blue Cacao Beach Club (right on the beach of course!)…

…and had their reception at the bar/restaurant area they have there that overlooks the ocean.

American photographer playa del carmen

This place was SOOO Bethany!  The perfectly placed lights around the pool, the paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and the waterfall wall (as I call it) to lay the backdrop for the room…

…it all looked so much like the way Bethany had described her dream wedding to me.

Part of her dream was to have her dad perform the ceremony, and that was another piece that came true!

Scottie and I had the pleasure of hanging out with Bethany’s parents for a bit before the wedding and we had to fight off the tears that came as her dad and her mom (who didn’t hide the tears) described their love for Mike and their happiness about Bethany’s choice to marry him.

We’re used to hearing couples gush about how much they love one another, but it was a rare gift to get to hear it from the parent’s side as well!

Knowing that this was an event that was not only uniting 2 people but also bringing an entire family closer together, made us even more excited that we had the privilege of capturing these memories for them.

Playa Del Carmen Destination weddingcreative destination wedding photographer

Our thoughts on this were confirmed when Bethany’s brother’s speech included a piece about how Mike has had a great influence on his life already.  (By the way, how could anyone not love Mike?  It seemed like every room we entered while everyone was getting ready for the ceremony, was adorned with flower arrangements Mike had gifted people with on his wedding day!).

(This is one of the best family photos we’ve ever taken and the coolness of it had very little to do with us!).

I think it’s safe to say that all the guests loved the whole wedding experience almost as much as Bethany and Mike and their families did!

(This is everyone!  Like our Facebook page to tag yourself in some of the photos!).

A girl in a thong walking behind the alter just as the wedding began, and a guy in a speedo running behind us while the ceremony was going are both wedding memories that none of their fun loving guests are soon to forget!

(Speedo man came back around after the ceremony ended, just in time to get this photo… I’m a little disappointed that the yellow racing stripes on the side of the speedo aren’t showing in this picture).

(We did get some pictures of the bridesmaids without speedo man as well!).Destination wedding photographercreative beach wedding photographyBethany and Mike know their group of friends well, so they made sure everything was set up to allow their guests to relax and dance the night away at the reception!

Ever heard the term “dancing machine”?

Well that can be applied to basically every person at their reception.  We got some freaking cool dancing pictures, despite the difficulty we had holding our cameras still while we were laughing so hard at some of these stellar moves!

We were positive that it was going to be one of these moves that was going to take someone into the pool and we were so bummed when we found out that it happened after we had already left!  Oh well, I’m sure everyone took a mental picture of that one (click).

This party had it all.

A beautiful setting, great food and drinks, fantastic decorations, family and friends hanging out together, dancing machines, and a very happy newly married couple… it doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you Bethany and Mike for inviting us to this incredibly moment in your lives.

We are so happy we got to be a part of it!

We absolutely loved everything and we are beyond excited to watch you guys build your new life together.  Congratulations!

Click to see the rest of the photos from Bethany and Mike’s big day!

P.S. If you’ve never seen Bethany swimming in a wedding dress before, then make sure you keep an eye out for the photos from her Unique Session that will be coming soon!