Monthly Archives: November 2009

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!

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

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(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.

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

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

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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(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)!)

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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.

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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!

Suzanne and Lee’s Engagement session!

If there’s some kind of secret sign or code that people who ride motorcycles have, either I don’t know it or Lee doesn’t use it because when I first met him I saw nothing to indicate that after Suzanne, his motorcycle is his second love!  In fact, riding around on their Harley is one of their favorite activities to do together!  That’s why we decided to include it in their engagement session!

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The other thing they enjoy doing together is talking walks around the beautiful lake in their neighborhood!  So we met them at their house and shot around the areas they spend a lot of time at.

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We wanted to catch them doing the things they normally do together so that their photos really represent them both as individuals and as a couple.  We figured that having them sit around in the park they spend so much time walking through would help them feel comfortable so they could relax and be themselves in front of the camera.  I think it worked!

003500340050(They’re taking dance lessons for the wedding, so we had them practice some of their moves for us!).

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Lee and Suzanne, thanks for inviting us to your home and for spending time hanging out with us!  We are so excited for your wedding with a view!:-)

Click to see the rest of Lee and Suzanne’s Phoenix Arizona engagement photographs.

Tracy and Paul’s LA Unique Session

Radiant Photography + LA coolness + an awesome couple with awesome ideas = Tracy and Paul’s Unique Session!

If you are a regular follower of our blog, you may remember seeing Tracy before… you just might not recognize her since in her last pictures she had tons of stage makeup on!  After we shot her wedding in Sedona, Tracy called us up to meet her and Paul there again to shoot her in her Folklorico dresses (that’s a style of traditional Mexican dancing).

This time we met Tracy in Paul in their hometown, LA (well, Venice to be more exact).  It’s pretty fun to have friends that we hang out with about once a year while we’re on vacation!  I think we’re being conditioned to relax and have a good time whenever we see Tracy and Paul.. if so, I definitely want to start seeing them more often!

To kick off their session, we drove through the crazy LA traffic to the Griffith Observatory to get a few nature shots as well as some photos overlooking the city!

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(We made sure to get some photos of them standing over the city they love!)

After we left the observatory, we headed over to downtown LA to find new spots to work the magic!  We were very happy with what we found there!

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We always laugh about how photographers in New York are so jealous of our wide open sky shots and we (Phoenix, AZ photographers) are so jealous of the big building shots!  I guess you just get bored with what you have!  Needless to say, we were very excited to find a spot to get that real “in the big city” feel.  I think these city shots are both mine and Scottie’s favorites from the day!

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All in all… another successful Unique Session!  We are LOVING our Unique Sessions (click here to see more of them).  Thank you so much Tracy and Paul for being a part of Radiant with us and for being excited about our company and so encouraging of all the work we’ve done with it so far!  Your support really has meant a ton to us.  We’ve had a great time getting to know you guys as well and we totally LOVE every chance we get to hang out with you!  You’re both so much fun and we always look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about culture, the arts, the music industry, recent movies, etc.  You definitely keep our interest in any and every conversation!  We’re all about mini Paul and Tracy trips anytime, so call us up and give us an excuse to come out and do another fun session next year and we’ll be there!;-)

Click to see the rest of Tracy and Paul’s Los Angeles, CA Unique Session photos.

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!

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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!)


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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!

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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)!


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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!!

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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!