Category Archives: Unique Sessions

Some call them “trash the dress”, some call them “day after sessions”, and some call them “bridal portraits”. We got tired of figuring it out so we just call them “Unique Sessions”. They can be any style you want at any location you want as long as you’re in your wedding clothes and it’s after the wedding day! Here are some of the Unique Sessions Scott & Breanna have shot in the past.

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!

All dressed up and just as wet… Katy and Shaun’s Hawaiian Unique Session

This was a photo shoot that went from normal to really wet very fast.  In fact, this whole session was high speed, so I’m going to stay true to the feel of it and relay the blog the same way.  So here’s the story behind Katy and Shaun’s Unique Session… short and sweet (well short for me anyways!).

We’d been so distracted by keeping up with the details behind all Katy and Shaun’s wedding events (see the events part 1 and part 2) and wedding itself that we talked the least about the Unique Session with them.

And apparently some where along the way I (Breanna) missed a major component, because when we arrived for picture time and Katy was describing a Radiant Unique Session to all her friends,  I was nodding and smiling along until she got to the part where she said “and I’m going to get into the ocean in my wedding dress!”.  Wait… what?!?

Don’t misunderstand me… I was thrilled to hear this… I just still can’t help but be shocked whenever I hear a bride say she’s not only willing, but excited to go swimming in her wedding dress!

We’ve taken pictures of this before, but each time is unique (hence the title of the session!) and every time a bride gets into the water in her wedding dress I’m just as excited, shocked, and amazed as I was the first time I saw it!

Hawaii trash the dress photography

Someone recently commented on our Facebook page about how we always have the coolest couples to work with.  And thanks to Katy and Shaun, I’m yet again reminded of how right he is!  I mean seriously, how many brides can there really be in the world who are willing to do this?!  We definitely have the coolest couples!

And actually there was something about this session that I really have never seen before… not with our own brides, not on any other photographers’ websites, and not even on TV… and that was the bouquet toss that happened in the ocean!!

ocean boquet toss

We can’t claim that this was our inventiveness, it was all concocted by the girls who had been waiting since the wedding the night before for Katy to throw her bouquet!  They planned and set up the whole thing and it was freaking hilarious!

beach wedding photography

My favorite part was when all the onlookers that were hanging out on the beach that day started clapping and cheering when Chrissie caught it… crowd participation!

Apparently this was something that none of them had seen before either!

It’s a good thing Katy was so excited about swimming in the ocean in her wedding dress, because Shaun was excited about it as well!

ocean wedding photography

In fact, he was so excited that he couldn’t even wait.  He carried Katy out into the ocean to get a few good pics…

Hawaii destination wedding photography

…and before we could even blink… he dropped her!

We were pretty surprised but I think it’s safe to say Katy was the most shocked!  Ha ha!  Good one, Shaun!

After a some time of swimming and making out in the ocean…

…you know like everyone does when they’re wearing their wedding clothes…

…Katy’s mom came wandering up the beach, just in time to see her daughter wading out of the ocean in her wedding dress!

So in true mother/daughter style, Katy and her mom ran into the ocean together for a little swim time of their own!

It was so cute and I was so glad her mom came up just at that moment so they could experience this together and so we could capture it!

So thanks Katy (and Shaun of course) for being such adventurous go-getters and for being so much fun (always) to work with!

We’re so happy we got to do this session with you and get these once in a lifetime kind of pictures for you guys.  We hope you love them!!

Click to see the rest of the photos from Katy and Shaun’s wet, Hawaiian, Unique Session!  And click here to see their actual wedding photos!

Andrew and Julie’s beautiful, wet, Unique Session!

Creative, fun, adventurous, good looking, hilarious…. those are just a few of the words I could use to describe Andrew and Julie.

And once you see the pictures from their Unique Session I don’t think I’ll have to try very hard to convince you that those adjectives are true one hundred times over!

So starting with the creative/fun descriptions… Andrew and Julie heard we were going out to California to do some photo sessions (and to celebrate our anniversary) so they immediately asked if we’d do their Unique Session on the beach if they drove all the way from AZ to do it.

So let me get this straight… you live in the same city as us and you’d be willing to drive to another state to meet us there to do your session? If you’re willing to sacrifice like that for us then, yes we’re more than down for that!

They met up with us during the San Diego portion of our trip and we headed over to Torrey Pines State Park for the first part of the session.

Here we got some of the unique nature shots that make California as beautiful as it is.

Then we headed over to a hang gliding take off point that proved to be spectacular.

Which I guess makes sense because if I was going to risk my life for an overhead look… I’d definitely want the view to be worth it! 😉

Before I show you where we went next, I need to back up and explain. Andrew and Julie got married this past January and decided that engagement and wedding pictures weren’t enough… they loved our pictures so much that they wanted an extra session!

You may have heard of Trash the Dress, Day after Sessions, Bridal sessions, etc.  Basically those are all different types of sessions that are done on a day other than your wedding in your wedding attire, so we’ve just lumped all those together and called them Unique Sessions (click to read more about Unique Sessions).

The idea is to allow us to be freed up enough in regards to time, location, and options to get the best of our very best kind of shots!  On a wedding day, we’re restricted by all those things as well as by trying to not get the dress dirty.  So a Unique Session gives us the chance to get “magazine” kind of pictures… shots you just can’t always get on a wedding day.

So did I not say that Julie and Andrew are adventurous?  So how could I expect anything other than for them to choose the Day After/ Trash the Dress version of the Unique Session?

While we don’t try to purposely “Trash” the dress, we do whatever we can to get the best pictures… even if that means putting the dress at risk!

But if you’re considering a Radiant Unique Session, fear not, we do not at all require that you risk your dress.  That’s completely bride’s (and maybe the bride or groom’s parents if they paid for it!) choice!

Julie made her choice! We headed off to La Jolla for her to get ready for the trashing part! Here’s the progression of her preparing to face the bold decision she had made to get into the freezing water!

Julie definitely had a vision for the session (here comes the “creative” adjective I assigned to her!).

She had seen a picture with this beach pose on it and she was daring enough to attempt to create it.

As you can see, it was a very successful attempt!

So once her dress was already that wet, she decided to let us go all the way with it!

I love, LOVE, L-O-V-E this shot that Scottie got.  It looks like she’s floating up in the clouds rather than in the ocean.  It’s just…. wow.

I think I forgot to include one very important descriptive word for these two…. adorable.

They are so cutesy together it’s equal parts ridiculous and awesome. I loved watching them interact and be so sweet to each other.

Amidst the stunning nature we were surrounded by, we had to make sure to stop and get some shots that captured the beautiful intimacy of their relationship.

Julie and Andrew, you are two of the most easy going people I’ve ever met!  I couldn’t believe the things you were willing to do for a good picture!  It was dirty, freezing, wet, and freaking difficult…. and you were smiling through it all.  Thank you!

We are so grateful to you for planning such a fantastic session and then for being brave enough to pull it off!  We couldn’t be happier with the pics we got from it, so I hope you two feel the same!

Click to see the rest of the pics from this amazing California Unique Session!

Already married? Want a chance to re-live your wedding? Try a Unique Session!

So what happens when you give Radiant Photographers the perfect location, perfect lighting, perfect timing, and the perfect level of creative freedom?  Well…let us show you because that’s basically the definition of our Unique Sessions!  A Unique Session can be added to our wedding packages… OR if you are already married but couldn’t afford the kind of wedding photography you wanted, you loathe that frizzy perm you got the day before your wedding, your photographer didn’t get certain photos, or if you just REALLY miss your wedding dress… the Unique Session might be a solution for you!

Unique Sessions are a chance to get your wedding dress on (your hubby can just wear a nice suit or something), and  go to whatever location you want to give us a chance to get some of the best photos possible!  On the wedding day, we are really out of control of the situation and this often gets in the way of us being able to do everything we’d like to with your photos so the Unique Session hands the control back to us so we can let our creativity really shine!

Unique Sessions can be done like Abigail’s session which was more of a “trash the dress” kind of idea.


Abigail wanted to capture the beauty of Pine, AZ where she lived and she was all about showcasing every aspect… even the kinds that put her dress at risk!  She figured that she had already used it and now it was just going to be shoved away in a closet forever (there’s maybe a 1% chance her daughter would want to wear it when she got married), so she might as well get the coolest pictures possible to remember it by!  And as a side note, her dress did end up being fine after a post session dry cleaning! Click to see more from Abigail’s Unique Session!

You can also do a Unique Session like Tracy and Paul who got married over a year ago and just wanted to get some more snazzy photos to add to their collection of wedding photos!

tracy_paul_sc0407We shot Tracy and Paul’s wedding in Sedona, but they live in LA and like Abigail, they LOVE where they live!  So they wanted to get some photos of them hanging out in the city they affectionately call home. And of course we were all too happy to take a trip to hang out with them in California! There’s nothing better than making friends as a result of art, love, and the shared emotional experience of a wedding day, so we are always so excited when we get to work with a great couple like Tracy and Paul and then get a chance to stay friends even after their wedding! Click to see more from Tracy and Paul’s Unique Session!

One of the most stressful aspects of a wedding day is a rushed, crammed, schedule.  We feel like we are always dashing around trying to beat out the sunset, hoping no one is running behind, and attempting to make the cocktail hour as short as possible on the wedding day, all the while trying to calm down brides who are worried their schedule is too far behind we won’t have time to get the kind of photos they want.

If you book our “Unique Package” (which includes the Unique Session) then we get some photos on your wedding day, but we also know we’re going to get a second chance to spend more time with you to get the kind of stuff we REALLY want.  So if the schedule doesn’t go exactly as planned on your big day, you can relax and know that we’ll have plenty of time later for photos and that much less stress can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your day!

This is what Mike and Emily chose to do for their wedding in La Jolla, California!

unique0123It was a perfect option for them because they traveled from Arizona to California for their wedding just to be able to get married in such a beautiful place.  So having the chance to take the time to actually drive around and get pictures in all different stunning CA locations, was something they were thrilled to do!  Click to see more from Emily and Mike’s Unique Session!

As you can see, when we say “Unique Session” really do mean unique! We work to design your session with the perfect blend between your personal style and our artistic abilities.  You can be an engaged couple planning a low-budget wedding who just want to get some amazing photos after your wedding at your favorite look out point.  Or you can be a couple who’s been married for 5 years, who want to re-connect with one another and feel like you’re getting married again!  Since they are so unique, they are for anyone with a wedding dress, who wants some more photos in it!

Contact us and we’ll help you dream up your own perfect Unique Session!!

High Fashion Meets Small Town (Abigail’s Unique Session)

It’s not everyday that one of your friends calls and says, “Will you help me trash my wedding dress?”  That’s pretty close to what my friend Abigail said to me after she heard about a session we did near her house in Pine, Arizona where we took a bride into a motorcycle parts yard, a creek, and a pile of fall leaves (all in her old wedding dress) to get some BEE-autiful model looking shots!


Ever since she heard about that session, Abigail (who’s been married 5 years) has been dreaming up her own Radiant Unique Session!


(This is her dreaming up her session… ha ha).

She lives in Northern Arizona and she is very partial to her small town so we wanted to keep her around that area and really capture her loving the beauty she lives for.



At heart, Abigail is a good ‘ole country girl…


…however, she also appreciates elegance and the art of fashion to some degree as well….



… which is why I LOVE the photos that combine the 2!


You can’t beat cowboy boots, a stunning wedding dress, and an old rusty bus (thanks to Mr. Man in Pine who let us pose with his bus!). Not to mention, a cowboy hat with silver stilettos make a statement like none else!

008(To get this shot, we all sat in the truck waiting until the last raindrop fell…. then we shouted “go!” and clamored out of the truck with gear piled in all of our arms to get this shot as quick as possible before the rain came back.  Hey, it worked!)

Abigail is one of those rare people who really does appreciate the small things in life (unlike most of us who just TRY to notice and love those things) and the big things she cares about are the things that help other people and improve the world around her.  In other words she is a very caring, very awesome, beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, woman with a variety of interests!  So our job…. to capture all of that in a few photos!



There is no way I could make it through this blog without talking about a few water mishaps.  Here’s the story… you have shirtless Scottie carrying the bottom of a wedding dress (to keep it from getting wet at the wrong time), holding his camera in the air with his other hand, all while praying he doesn’t fall! Camera insurance is nice, but it’s not really something we’re excited to test out or anything!  (By the way, he did stumble once and pulled one of those arms swinging like propellers – almost fall maneuvers… and apparently the propeller arms did the trick because he stayed up!) All that to get over to this mini waterfall with her dress still intact!


Abigail was oh so brave throughout the whole thing!  That first step into the water was a tough one, everything in you just screams “NO!!!  What are you doing?!  You have a wedding dress on and that’s not a creek-friendly outfit! ”  It’s a very counter-intuitive thing to do and I could see the inner struggle in her face as she put her first foot in!  It’s like watching $100 bills fly out the window! Although by the end of it all, her dress was totally fine, it just needed to be dry cleaned and it would be good as… almost new!



(It was right about this time that it was hard to believe we were still in Arizona!  When you think the southwest, you don’t usually picture turquoise colored water!  So for all you east coasters who think people in Arizona still ride to work on horses, bathe in tiny puddles of any muddy water we can find, and have front yards made out of tumble weeds…. now you know that’s all a lie (or at least the part about the desert not having water is)!)


This picture takes me right back to 5 years old when I dreamed of being a fairy princess in a fairytale forest (the kind without goblins in it of course), surrounded by tiny talking animals.  But as we all know, fairytales are make-believe… or at least I know that now after being in that forest and realizing it was full of GIANT spiders that crawl in the layers of her dress, rocks that cut your feet, and sticks that tangle up your hair!  Of course Abigail totally embodies the modern day fairytale where the princess is excessively brave and can take on major social issues that are much bigger than a few little ‘ole spiders! So I guess it still works.  (I was seriously stifling my screams as I saw quarter sized spiders all stuck up in her dress and she just calmly brushed them away and kept laying there).

One of the best things about this session was that Abigail decided to have her husband dress up for some shots so that she could get a few pictures that she feels like she missed on her actual wedding day. We really like the idea of helping people re-create their wedding years later so they can get some great, modern looking pictures that they love (which works great if you had a poodle perm back in the day that makes you too embarrassed to show your wedding pictures or something like that)! That’s why we offer the Unique Session as an item separate from our actual wedding packages, so that anyone (no matter how long ago you got married) can take advantage of a chance to have Radiant wedding pictures… and to give every girl a chance to be a bride again!

We also offer Unique Sessions in our Unique Wedding Package to give our couples a chance to relax on their wedding day and spend time with their guests rather than spending an hour or more doing pictures after the ceremony. Plus Unique Session pics turn out way better than actual wedding day ones because we have more control over lighting, time of day, setting, etc.


Thank you soooo much Abigail (and Andy) for giving us the chance to go out and get creative with our art.  This was such an unforgettable time for us and we are so glad we got to experience it with such good friends!  Thanks for trusting us to do this…and believing us that it would be worth getting your dress a little dirty!  Thanks for not giving us funny looks when we asked you to do awkward poses or sit in front a dirty bus…. we hope you now get to see what we saw in those moments!  Oh yeah and most of all, thanks for not screaming and freaking out when there were spiders in your dress… I would’ve started crying. 😉  Love you both!

Click here to see more pics from Abigail’s Unique Session!