Yearly Archives: 2009

Emily & Mike’s San Diego Unique Session

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to want to shoot as much as possible in California… we got this amazing session from there as well!  When we found out that Mike and Emily were getting married in San Diego, we thought it would be awesome to get a chance to shoot them there more than once since they were doing so much work to have their wedding in such an amazing place!  They loved the idea of doing a Unique Session the day after their wedding so we started planning it!

The first place we went was Balboa Park.  I was hesitant about the location until Scottie showed me a picture of the most fantastic Fairy Tale Tree EVER!  Then I couldn’t wait to get a crack at a photo like that!  As it turned out… we got it!

unique00281(For those of you who know about our precious, giant tree they had to cut down in front of our place… apparently it was in the same family as this one, so this is probably what the roots underground looked like!)

I can’t even say enough about what a good sport these 2 were… particularly Emily in her heels and dress!  She climbed over those roots like a pro.  To give you an idea of how difficult it was, this was on a steep incline (more so than it looks) and some of those roots were so big that when I straddled them, my feet didn’t touch the ground!  Thank you guys for allowing me to get one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken!

We got more than one actually (I just don’t think any can beat that top one)!

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Here are some of the others from Balboa Park…

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(This one is perfect because as it turns out, she LOVES daisies!  I wish we could say we planned that, but really the park chose to plant daisies, so they get the credit!)


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(I like this one because it looks like fall and we don’t get much of that in AZ!)


unique0056(This is Scottie’s favorite one… favorite one from the park at least)!

After Balboa, we went to a place that they considered doing their ceremony at.  Although it is SUPER beautiful there, they couldn’t do it because the tide was a little scary!  This was the main place that Emily totally rocked it!  Walking down very high and steep stairs in her heels, climbing unbelievably slippery rocks (people in normal shoes were falling left and right!), and holding up her white dress so it didn’t get dirty… she did it all without complaining once!  Oh yeah, and it was FREEZING with a capital F!  But it was oh so beautiful!

unique0104(all the green on the rocks represents slippery landmines!)

unique0120(These are the shoes that survived it all!)

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(OK, so apparently her shoes didn’t survive quite ALL of it… it looks like they got vetoed right about now)!


unique0101unique0113unique0087unique0096unique0089unique0084unique0123-1(These are 2 of my absolute favorites from the day)!

The third place that we went to shoot was a place that Scottie and I found the day before their wedding when we went looking for shooting locations.  Thank you God for making so many fantastic places so near each other!!

unique01211unique0132unique0129unique0139(As you can see, it was also freezing here!)

At this point we were all extremely exhausted, not to mention hungry, but we decided to make the most of the day and just push through!  So we made one last trip to a new photo location.  We went down to the Gas Lamp Quarter (aka the cool part of downtown San Diego) to get a few last shots!

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Overall, it was a fantastic day and we couldn’t be happier with the results.  Thanks again Mike and Emily for being so up for adventure and experimentation!  You were both amazing and we had a blast experiencing all this with you! Click to see the rest of the photos from Mike and Emily’s Unique Session!  Once you’re done with that, click to see Mike and Emily’s wedding photos too!

Mike and Emily’s super unique, unbelievably beautiful wedding day!

Can you be officially considered “destination” photographers if you’ve only shot weddings in the 2 states closest to yours?  We’ll say yes since it makes us sound so much cooler.  So I now declare that we are destination photographers!  When Mike and Emily called us to shoot their wedding on the beach in San Diego, I think all it took was a look between Scottie and I to know that we’d be willing to let them name our firstborn for a chance to hang out in California with them.

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Good thing they wanted us there too so they just signed our normal contract (which said nothing about our firstborn) and many months later, we found ourselves sitting on the beach, watching the sunset, and talking about the wedding we were excited to shoot the next day!

One of my favorite things about going to as many weddings as we do is how much you can learn about a couple just by observing the details of their wedding.  Some people love a big production and are very detail oriented, some just want to spend as much time as possible with their family and friends, while others just want it to be over so they can finally be married!  Of course our favorites are the ones who really care about their photos (and Mike and Emily definitely fall into that category)!  :-)  Emily also had tons and tons of little details that meant a lot to her…everything from sentimental keepsakes to various personalized gifts for the guests.  Every little thing had their personal touch on it, and that includes the guests lips since they handed out keepsake lip balm alongside the individual coffee packets, bubbles, and scented soaps that their guests took home.  Her family had some amazing little things to give to her that day as well!  Her mom saved her baby bonnet so she could turn it into a handkerchief for Emily’s wedding day, so of course she carried it with her! She also carried the same little white Bible that generations of women in her family before carried on their wedding day. It has all their names and wedding dates written in the inside cover.  It was so cool to get to hear the story behind these special wedding day details as well as many others that were present that day!

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(The Bible and the handkerchief… this might actually be the other handkerchief she had that day.  The one her grandmother bought for her years ago in hopes that she would use it on her wedding day.  It’s so awesome how much everyone looked forward to and planned for Emily’s big day, even from when she was young.  What a loving family!).

Their ceremony was unbelievably beautiful and they picked the perfect wedding colors to set off the colors in the ocean.  Our little photographer hearts skipped a beat when we saw the set up! Suzan M. Florals did an INCREDIBLE job on the flowers.  She went above and beyond the call of duty!  You can tell once you’ve seen her work that she’s one of those people who sees her work as more than just a job… it’s definitely her art and her work has the integrity of a true artist. She sees everything she does as a gift to the couple and she puts her heart into her work accordingly.  She was also so cute to see on the wedding day, she was SO excited for Mike and Emily. :-)  I talked to Emily about Suzan afterwards and she had the same rave reviews as me!

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And of course to make it better the actual ceremony was beautiful as well and full of tears (with a few laughs thrown in for good measure too… some on purpose, some due to the unexpected events that important moments in life always seem to spring on you)!

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The reception had an unusual touch to it as well!  They opted to only do the major dances (first dance, father daughter, mother son) and then brought  in an improv comedy team to provide the entertainment that is usually provided at weddings by drunken guests attempting to do the electric slide!  The comedy team was a hit and they had every guest at the wedding laughing uproariously… definitely memories that everyone took home with them!

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After their brunch reception ended, all the guests went back to their hotels rooms to change and rest a bit before the big bonfire on the beach that night! That’s the benefit of a destination wedding… all your guests have nothing better to do but stick around and party with you for as long as you want (NOW do I sound like a real destination wedding photographer?)!  I actually can say that from experience because our wedding was destination and it was the same thing… we just got to party with our friends and family all weekend!  We got married in a small town where everything closed at 8pm so our guests didn’t really have a choice!

It was really fun for us to get spend that much time with Mike and Emily as well as their guests.  We got to know everyone really well and we totally love that because it’s a really big deal to spend 8 hours with someone on the most important day of their life, but hanging out with them for a few days in a row is even more amazing!  Mike and Emily treated us as guests, not as random, distant photographers.  They invited us to the bonfire that night to hang out with everyone (as well as capture a few photo ops!), thanks for inviting us guys, we had a blast and it meant a lot to us to get to hang out with you more!

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This was truly an amazing, unique, fun, beautiful, and emotional time all wrapped up into one wedding!

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Mike and Emily, you guys did a great job planning your wedding (it was seriously WONDERFUL) and thanks for spending all the time you did with us… especially during that long, exhausting Unique Session we did the day after your wedding.  You’re both great sports! :-)  Check out the blog about our Unique Session adventure with Mike and Emily… and I do mean ADVENTURE!  Here’s a little sneak peak at one of the photos from it  just to whet your appetite a little bit!

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Click to see all of Mike and Emily’s San Diego wedding photographs!

Check out our great, wonderous, fantastic new website in all its Flash glory!

If you are one of the many people who have recently asked yourself “are Scottie and Breanna still alive”?  Now you know why we’ve been MIA for so long.  It takes a lot of time to create majesty.  Okay, that MIGHT be overdoing it…just a little bit.  We’ve been heavy under the task of re-doing our website!  Rather I should say Scottie has been redesigning the site, I was more what you’d call “creative director” aka “annoying-detail oriented- nit picking- control freak”; something more along those lines.

So please, please, please make all of our time spent locked up in our cave (office) worth it and go check out our new website!  We’re more excited about it than anyone should ever be about a website… so we want to share it with the world!

I’ll give you a few teaser photos so that you can’t help but go check it out, even if your kids are screaming, your boss is looking over your shoulder (show him too!), or your to do list is a mile long.  Take a load off, fill up your coffee mug, and kick back while you get immersed in all the beauty and emotion of a wedding day.

unique0028unique0121003007unique0004unique0007(These are all photos from the Unique Session in our portfolio so make sure you check that out!)

CLICK TO GO SEE OUR NEW WEBSITE!!

The Cottrells are our dream team.

We’ve recently been dreaming up a certain type of family session… and then someone called us up and asked us to shoot it!  I spent some time talking to Nicole about her vision for the session and the more we talked the more I realized that working with people like this is why I LOVE my job!  I gave her ideas about the kind of session I’ve been wanting to do and she totally ran with it and filled in all the little details to complete my dream!

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I can’t even describe how amazing it is when our clients’ family and friends can look at the photos we took and say “wow, that is SO them” and then at the same time, having OUR family and friends be able to say that as well because our artistic style is enhanced so much by our client’s personal style!  It’s fusion… total fusion.  I could tell from before the date was even set for the shoot that this was one for the record books for us.

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When the big day finally came and we showed up at their house, I turned into a rambling fool every time they pulled out a new tiny sized accessory or trendy prop because I absolutely could not shut up about how perfect every single little detail was!  Everything from the decor of their home (where we started the shoot), to their outfits (thank you H&M), to their photo ideas… it all fit together in a way that made whatever part it is of my heart that beats for beauty, want to explode. (while I hate the term “drama queen”, I can’t help but wonder how many people are silently applying that title to me right about now). So um… I was excited.

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Every Saturday morning, the kids come and climb into bed with Jon and Nicole and they all snuggle up under the covers and hang out together for awhile.

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So while my “dream family session” involved the family playing together in bed like this, the idea to put it into this session actually came from Nicole!  (See!  It’s fusion, I tell ya!).

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Their daughter, Riley, was… gregarious? hilarious? no, neither of those words quite describe her, it has to be some mix of the two words that ends in “arious”, like “grilarious”.

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cottrell_bc0647(You have to check out the rest of the photos to see more of this “grilariousness”… that’s right, I added the “ness” to my new word).

Anyway, she was absolutely amazing.  Bottom line, I hope everyone of you gets a chance to spend sometime playing with a little girl like this at least once in your life.  Any photo we have of her standing still must have been a fluke because I’m pretty sure she spent at least half the day in the air (literally).  Jumping, jumping, bouncing, hopping… she never stopped.

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As she defied gravity, she somehow managed to make up pretend scenarios, tell stories, and ask us important questions about our life.  She’s especially interested in babies right now (and the fact that they actually grow in a belly) so she was quite disappointed that I not only didn’t have my own baby, but that my stomach was void of one as well.  You’d be surprised how often little kids lecture me about getting myself a baby.  A 4 year old boy I used to babysit for thought it was absolutely hilarious that he caught me in my blunder… as much as I argued with him, he insisted that I forgot to buy a baby and I’d better go do that soon. Just today my friend’s 3 year old was getting on my case as well!

cottrell_bc0148cottrell_sc0203(These are photos of jumping story time)

Little Tolan, was not about to be over shadowed by his big sister though!  It was so awesome to watch how he followed her around and copied her.  If she flung herself onto the couch, he followed suit.  When she left the room, he was right on her tail.  It made me miss when my little brother was following me around like that about 20 years ago.

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Tolan loves playing with accessories whether it’s a hat, sunglasses, whatever, he loves them (perfect fit for his parents!), but he’s not about to let all that junk get in the way of him having fun either!  He’s a rough and tumble boy through and through.  I won’t even tell you how many hours I spent in photoshop just doing the bare minimum work to minimize all the toddler battle wounds on his face!

cottrell_bc0417cottrell_bc0422cottrell_bc0431cottrell_sc0416cottrell_sc0618cottrell_sc0001(this is the only pacifier in the world that I would call an “accessory”)!

I have to mention that little Tolan is already a musical genius!  He plays actual songs on the piano already!  Just when you get ready to brace yourself and cover your ears for the obvious obnoxious sounds that come from a toddler sitting at a piano, you realize he’s actually playing something and it sounds good!

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One of my favorite stages that little kids go through is when they get their own sense of humor.  Tolan was totally there and I could probably laugh for hours on end watching him decide what he deems as funny in this life.  At one point he took off his cute little converse shoe and threw it on the ground and he got this look on his face that said, “oh wow, I am a comedic genius” and then he laughed hysterically.  And judging by the way he made me laugh at that point, he may very well be a comedic genius!

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(Here’s an “I’m-so-hilarious moment”… take a good look at his face, you might see him live at the Improv one day… if he’s not spending all his time at Carnegie Hall by then).

cottrell_sc0537(Apparently his daddy thinks he is the funniest thing in the world).

The entire time we were at their house, Tolan was absolutely enthralled with the 2 chapsticks he was double fisting.  He spent about 20 minutes studying the mechanical structure and working on getting the caps off.  I emailed Nicole after the session to tell her that if she ever needs extra pictures of her son playing with chapstick, I have about 200 of them!  She said she’d keep that in mind for when he brings his first girlfriend over one day!

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Now that you’ve been a first hand witness to how cool these people are, I have to brag and tell you that they’ve decided we’re cool enough to be their friends!

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Scottie and Jon were actually roommates at one time in the house that Jon and Nicole still live in (so all these photos are taken in Scottie’s old house)!  And Jon was the one who sort of welcomed me into his group of friends, which is how I met Scottie!  Jon also had a ton to do with us ending up together since he was often a key player in all the romantic things Scottie planned to woo me with and he was also very good at picking up the slack to make me think only the best of Scottie (by that I mean the wedding gift you gave us when we got back from our honeymoon…you know what I’m talking about!). ;-)  The Jon touch can’t be mistaken, so as much as Scottie may have wanted to claim all those romantic ideas as his, I knew he would NEVER garnish a plate with vegetable shavings!

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I also got to be a witness the first time Jon and Nicole ever met (in the very same house) when the new “hot girl” walked in and turned all the guys’ heads (I don’t know if you knew that, Nicole)!  All that to say, we were friends with Jon and Nicole during some of the most pivotal moments of our lives and they helped us make it through them all.  Jon and Nicole, doing these pictures meant so much more to me than just getting a chance to do my dream shoot.  It was so fun for us to be involved with you and your family again, and it made us remember how much you mean to us and realize what we’ve been missing out on these past couple of years (or however long it’s been since we’ve hung out regularly).  We absolutely LOVE LOVE both of your personalities and your hearts… and now that we’ve gotten to know your children better we realize we love them as well.

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I kind of want to just publicly recognize how much we value you as individuals, as a couple/family, and as our friends.  You are two of the most generous, intelligent, interesting, creative, loving, and well let’s face it… ultra cool people we’ve ever met and you’ve both done so much for us and been such a big part of our lives (I know those sound like generic adverbs, but you represent all of those things better than most people I’d describe with them!). We want to say thank you for the many, many times you’ve been there for us, whether it was having major talks with us about dating drama (we’re SO glad that stage is over!), inspiring us with your knowledge of the arts, or making us laugh REALLY hard right when we needed it.  We love both of you guys and we hope that you love your pictures!

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It was so hard to pick out photos to post here because I love them all!  Make sure you click to see the rest of the Cottrells’ Family Photo Session!

Gloria and Ricky’s engagement session

Gloria and Ricky decided to be brave and go where no Radiant photographer has ever gone before… downtown Gilbert.

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It’s always fun having sessions in new places and Gilbert, AZ was no different.  It definitely keeps us on our toes and allows the creative juices to flow!  We especially want to thank Gloria and Ricky for driving all the way from Glendale, AZ to allow us to experiment a little!  Well okay, they let us experiment a lot!  We found all kinds of cool places!

0004For example, here’s the magical hallway to nowhere…

00161Here’s the old elevator… how old is it really?  Who knows!?  That’s why they’re such brave souls!;-)

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Here’s that weird vortex area that allows them to just stand right in the middle of the sky!

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And who could forget the inexplicable scientific marvel of water shooting out of the ground at random!

0020And I know we’re all still marveling at that house that was picked up straight from San Francisco and dropped right here just like that!

Wow, who knew that downtown Gilbert would be such an adventure!  Hopefully all these amazing sites made it worth the drive for Gloria and Ricky… if not, maybe I can come up with more natural wonders to elaborate on to help convince them!;-)

Actually I’ll spare you all further pain of these cheesy jokes… I’m dying here!  I’d like to thank you all for making it this far, thus I’ll reward you and stop talking so you can just look at the rest of the photos in peace (and you can always click to see all the photos from Ricky and Gloria’s engagement photo session).

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Oh wait, wait, I need to say one more thing!  Thanks to Gloria and Ricky for being up for this great adventure with us… we’re even more excited to see what sort of fun filled escapades await us at your wedding!

Click here to see all the photos from this downtown Gilbert, AZ engagement photo session!