Ways to make your wedding more environmentally friendly

These days, I’m a wedding photographer and a painter.

A long time ago (in a galaxy far far away?) I was an environmental geochemist ***more on that in a footnote at the bottom. It wasn’t that long ago, actually.

Why do you care? What does this have to do with weddings, anyway?

Well…I used to be a geochemist…I’m now a photographer who is deeply committed to the environment.

Weddings are a one day event where a lot of stuff is specially made to use on that day…and then what?

So how can we make your wedding greener?

There are a few big picture things to think about. Where did the stuff come from? What is its purpose? Where will it go after you’re done with it?

Anything can be thought about just a little more to make it more environmentally friendly in some way. Making thoughtful choices in any of those big picture areas can help a lot. Here are some ideas:

Paper items? They can be made from recycled paper, or cotton paper, or hemp paper. There are soy-based and other environmentally friendly inks. Recycle the paper after. Compost it.

Flowers? You can … use a local company that uses a local flower grower. This helps the local economy but it also saves on carbon costs related to shipping/travel. There are also florists who forage and make arrangements based on season…so they might use more dried elements during winter. Give the flowers a second life of some kind after … Donate them. Compost them. Dry them and save them.

Clothing? You can … buy from environmentally conscious designers. Wear vintage. Buy used. Know where your dress was made. Keep or donate.

Decorations? You can … make them. Repurpose things and use them. Choose things made without plastic. Give them a second life. Buy them from someone who already used them. Donate them after. Join a wedding board and sell them. Use a planner who makes things…sometimes they keep them to use again or re-purpose.

Jewelry? Know where your jewelry comes from. What kind of stone are you buying? Use a local jeweler. Buy from a smaller scale artist. Wear vintage.

Photographer? Yep. Even my category. As an artist who values print, how do I maintain my commitment to the environment? I make sure the albums I make for people are of the highest quality and will last. Same for printing of photos. Everything is made to last. I choose companies for printing based on that quality and I make sure they have animal friendly options for covers, they use environmentally friendly packaging, they pack things efficiently, etc. In addition, instead of printing a huge amount of paper to be tossed, like postcards, flyers, magazine guides, welcome packets, business cards, etc…I do everything else digitally. The art is amazing and high quality. Everything else is digital.

Food? Choose local. Choose quality ingredients made by local farms. Choose things with less packaging or without plastic. If you’re having a less formal backyard wedding, use compostable or reusable plates/flatware. We went to Il Vicino the other night and they have paper straws! So cool. Use paper straws. Use no straws. Go for options other than plastic.

Ok. Let’s be real. Some of these options are definitely going to be more expensive. If budget isn’t a concern for you, then choosing environmentally friendly options across the board is easy. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re concerned about the environment, you can pick and choose. If the environment doesn’t matter to you at all, then I’m not sure why you’re still reading this. ūüėČ

For me, I choose quality over quantity most of the time. In my business and in my personal life. I want something that will last and not be tossed out next week because it’s already breaking down. I don’t shop a lot, but when I do, I go to local as much as I can. When we dine out, we go to local places. I do shop at a chain for body products, but they use very little packaging and they do a lot of charity work around the world (Lush). We try to buy as little plastic as possible. We recycle and take bags to the store most times. haha Sometimes we forget. We’re human.

Even making one or two changes can go a long way to help.

If you’re really interested in this and you want to make your wedding more environmentally friendly, but you have no idea where to start … I’m happy to help if I can. Send me your questions and I will do my best to answer them or find you someone who can.


***The footnote from above ūüôā
As an undergraduate student, I did a senior thesis about travel of acid mine drainage chemicals via river sediment. As a masters student I did a masters thesis about fast travel of uranium and strontium in the ground above the water table when when flushed with water (like during a large rain). As a PhD student (I passed my exams, completed my coursework, and left midway through a project that was too big for one person), my dissertation was about faster water flowpaths through channels of smaller and more even grain size in sediment. I taught lectures, I taught lab classes, I worked as a chemist at a national lab for several years, and then I worked as an environmental consultant doing environmental remediation.

I have so many friends who are scientists. We met in school and now they work all over the world. A lot of them study climate change.

We’re not going to have a climate change lesson in this post, though that will be coming in another series of blog posts. The way I see it, most of my scientist friends are on social media and they post a lot about climate change science…which is then read by other scientists in their circle. But are regular folks who aren’t scientists and don’t know what to think about climate change or don’t get science at all reading any of that stuff? Probably not. I’m really good at speaking to regular folks about science in a way that isn’t confusing to people who might not already be great at science. I think I have a duty to do that.

So stay tuned for a series of blog posts about climate science. For anyone who thinks “stay in your lane”… Welp. I’m a former scientist who has a reach to people outside the science community. I have knowledge to share and I’m able to answer questions about science in an approachable way. Nobody will ever be made to feel like an idiot asking me a question about science. I’m not too proud to say “I don’t know the answer to this” and find someone who does. And frankly, we’re in a place now, as humans, where this is our lane. All of us. Now is the time for concern.

25 Tips for writing your own wedding timeline

In my last post I stressed how important it is to have a great timeline for your wedding to run smoothly. And I said I would help you figure out how to write one.

So here I am doing that. One really easy way to get help with that is to hire a wedding planner. The End. I’m kidding. (Seriously, planners are super awesome though.)

If you’re the DIY type, here are some things to think about:

  • Use a timeline planning tool.
  • You can use examples from online to help, but make your own timeline. Your wedding is yours and you may need more or less time for things than examples from other weddings.
  • If you have friends and/or family who got married recently, ask them if they have any advice for your schedule.
  • Delegate. Make sure the people who are setting up know that’s their task and they know what to do, when to do it, and where things go.
  • Communicate with your vendors. Ask them how much time things take. They can help you estimate time for parts of the day.
  • Think about how much time you have contracted with your vendors and when they will arrive and leave.
  • How many people are going through hair and makeup?¬†
  • Are you¬†getting¬†ready in the same place as the ceremony?
  • Plan 10-15 minutes of seating and shuffling between the ceremony time on the invite and the actual start of the ceremony.
  • How long do you want your ceremony to be? Do you have readings or singers or other special ceremony items to include?
  • Is the¬†ceremony¬†in¬†the¬†same¬†place as the reception?
  • Don’t forget to include travel time between locations.
  • How much family will be in family portraits?¬†
  • Will you do a first look?
  • Include 15-30 minutes of alone time for you and your love to be alone and take it all in together. Either after a first look and before the ceremony or just after¬†the¬†ceremony when you can sneak away.¬†
  • When are things being set up and delivered? Who are the points of contact for vendors? Who is setting up?
  • Make sure your guests are entertained and taken care of while they wait for your entrance at the reception, especially if you’re planning extra time for portraits.¬†
  • People like to eat and they get cranky when it’s supposed to happen at a certain time and it doesn’t. ūüėȬ†
  • Make a schedule for toasts, dances, cake, garter and bouquet and anything else you’re doing at your reception.
  • How many toasts do you think you’ll have?
  • Will you do a lot of special dances?
  • When does the party end?¬†
  • Is there a send-off?
  • Is there an after-party?
  • Who’s on clean-up? Very important. Hopefully not you. Get someone¬†else¬†to clean up. It’s your wedding day.

Some extra advice:
A lot of these things take longer than you think. Estimate a time and pad it a little. 
Take that little slice of alone time. For real. 
The most important thing … things may run late or go wrong. Remember you’re there to celebrate your love and to have fun.

Have a question about weddings that you think I can answer in a blog post? Send me a question!

 

9 reasons your wedding needs a timeline

Well, in my last post, I said your wedding needs a timeline and the reasons could write another blog. So here we are.

What is a timeline, anyway? Sometimes as professionals we use terms every day and maybe as a potential client you don’t even know what we mean. A timeline is a schedule of what’s going to happen on the day of your wedding.

It seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve been at weddings where there wasn’t any sort of schedule. If you’re a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, it can work. Even if you are super adaptable, your vendors and guests appreciate a schedule too.

In no particular order, here’s a bunch of reasons to have a timeline:

  • It’s helpful to have a realistic estimate of how long things will take. Estimate how long you think it will take and then add more time. It will take longer than you think.
  • You’ll have time for things you wanted on the day of because you had a schedule. If you don’t have a schedule, then you’ll end up having to skip things you wanted on the day of because there’s no time left after everything takes longer than you thought.
  • You’ll be able to enjoy your wedding more because fewer people will be asking you what should happen next.
  • Vendors will know what to expect and where to be at what time.
  • Your ceremony will be more likely to happen on schedule.
  • Vendor mix-ups will be less likely. If you only scheduled your photographer for 6 hours, and they’re leaving but you haven’t cut your cake yet, a schedule would have helped you see that you needed more hours ahead of time.
  • You’ll know how much time you have for portraits
  • Your guests will appreciate being taken care of and knowing what’s going on. They’re super happy if you’ve sent them on to cocktail hour while you have photos. People like appetizers and drinks.
  • And finally, a wedding is an event. Events need a plan to keep them on track.

“Ok! I need a timeline! How do I do that? Help me!”

I got you. I’ll write about that next.

Have a question about weddings that you think I can answer in a blog post? Send me a question!

It’s that time of year!

Pumpkin everything, a chill in the morning, hot air balloons on the horizon while you wait at the school bus stop, and the leaves in the bosque are turning yellow.

It’s time for a family photo session! I mean, you can do this any time of year, but a lot of people wait for the fall because it’s gorgeous here. And it’s not a million degrees. haha

Don’t you love those notifications that pop up on social media to remind you of last year’s photo of your kiddo doing something cute? I love those too. Will those images be there in 20 years?

It’s time for new photos of your kids that you can see whenever you want in your home.

You know, as a mom, I know that if I don’t do something when I’m thinking about it, I put it in the pile. Then, if it’s not something on the top of my mind, it gets buried. So I’ve made it really easy to book family sessions, because…I know how it is.

Go here and click on “Book your family session”.

fall bosque family photos albuquerque New Mexico

Victorian Mansion wedding – Michelle + Scott – Albuquerque Wedding Photographer

It’s about time I get some weddings on the blog, don’t you think? I re-did the whole website and blog when we moved. I’ve decided to make collages of full wedding days. So here we go…

Sometimes you meet a couple and they are just so adorable together. When we met for a beer to talk about their wedding they were so sweet to each other. You can tell when they look at each other that there’s so much love, but they’re also best friends. I knew their wedding was going to be so good, you guys.

Their wedding was at Gibson Mansion in Missoula, MT, which is a gorgeous victorian mansion and I was beyond excited to photograph a wedding there finally. I had been by it so many times and I was dying to get in there.

Michelle and Scott are so obviously loved by wonderful, fun, and hilarious friends and family. They had a snow cone machine, outdoor summer games, and lots of costume props and games for kids. It was a perfect summer day and it felt like we stepped back in time with the backdrop of the big victorian garden and gazebo.

I think I loved their wedding day as much as they did. They are surrounded by love and happiness and it was awesome to be a part of it. I know they will continue to be so happy and loved.

We’re moving back to Albuquerque, NM!

Well, Corrales, really.

If you know me, you know that I went to college here in Missoula and I met my awesome husband here. He’s from Montana and he went to high school here in Missoula. In 2003, we moved to Albuquerque together. We went to grad school, made a bunch of friends, got married, and had both of our boys there. We were there for nearly 12 years. We made it our home.

We love Albuquerque. So much. But my husband missed his family too. We always kind of talked about coming back to Montana to be closer to his mom. Then, in 2014, I don’t know why, but I felt like it was more urgent…we needed to come back. Sometimes I just feel things and know to trust it. So we came back to Montana and not long after, we found out his mom was sick. We were here, and the boys got to be with their grandma for a while. Both grandma and her mom have passed since we came back. We are so grateful we were here to be with them. And we have loved being with our other family here too.

We needed to be here and now we need to go home. We love our family and friends here so much and Montana is a wonderful place. We will visit and we’ll love Montana forever. But the desert calls us back…we made a life and home for ourselves in NM and we miss it so much.

So a while ago I said that I didn’t renew my studio lease here and that I had an announcement. We’re moving back to NM!!! Yaaaayyyyy!

We will be in Missoula until about the middle of June. If you’ve been wanting to schedule a session, I will be available for limited sessions until we leave. We’re also packing, wrapping things up, and selling our house here and closing on the new one in Corrales…

I will be back for a couple of weddings in 2019. I do love travel and Montana. So if you wanted me to photograph your wedding and you’re super sad I’m leaving, send me a message and we can chat about that.

We bought a bit of a fixer-upper under asking price. It needs work, but we see what it can be. There is a studio space attached and I will keep you updated on the progress. It will be a combined art and photography space, because I’m going to be doing some different things there, which I’ll tell you about in a different post. Look at the awesomeness of this place though! I’m so excited!

To schedule a session here in Missoula until June, in Albuquerque/Corrales/Rio Rancho/Santa Fe starting in July, or to chat about your wedding in any of those locations or anywhere in between, send me a message here: contact me

A review! Sleeklens Forever Thine Wedding Workflow presets

A while ago, I was asked to review a set of presets for wedding editing that are compatible with Lightroom…the Forever Thine Wedding Workflow by Sleeklens.

First, I have never been asked to review anything before, so I feel pretty great about that. Thank you, sleeklens!

Second, I should note that I don’t regularly use presets in Lightroom or actions in Photoshop in my wedding editing workflow. I have some presets and actions I made myself of things I do to every raw image and I apply those to speed up my editing process so that I don’t have to do the same things over and over. Other than that, I do everything myself and by hand. I have tried presets and actions before though, so I have some previous knowledge to work with.

So…after saying that…This is a pretty great workflow set. It’s not just a set of presets. It’s a big set of presets AND a set of brushes. There are 11 SETS of presets and 5 SETS of brushes, with a bunch in each set. The presets: All-in-ones, bases, exposure, color, tone/tint, polish, vignettes, film, fashion, matte, vintage, and black and white. The brushes: color, face, haze, light, wedding.

You can start with a preset, tweak it how you like, and then use the brushes to do fine adjustments. They send you a PDF with a few recipes to do just that, to get you started.

I chose a few images from one of my weddings this summer to do a few examples.

First…This was my edit from this wedding. The one I sent my client.

This next one is the one I made using the Forever Thine Wedding Workflow:

This is “Base – warmer” with “Tone/tint – Fading Dream” with a bump in tint, clarity, and temperature. This formula is pretty much straight from their instructional PDF.

Honestly, I don’t love it as much as the one I sent my client. But I could probably tweak it a little more and get it there.

Here’s another of my own that I sent my client:

 

And one I made using the workflow:

This is “Wedding Film – Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with “Fix Over-exposure” brush on their bodies.

I know, they’re not the same. But it could be done. I’m trying to showcase what can be done with their presets, not my own editing. ¬†This is more like an editing style that is popular right now. Muted greens and grayed tones. If that’s your thing, this set of presets has a few muted tone and film style looks.

And here’s a look at a raw version of another photo with my edit:

And two versions from the workflow:

This is “Wedding Film – Gone with the Wind” with the “Add Golden Sun” brush on the left and “All-in-One – Best Man” with the “Add Golden Sun” brush on the right.

These are both beautiful as well.

A black and white of my own:

Another popular style…the dark and moody black and white. This one is made using “Repulsion” (They may want to reconsider that name? haha), using the brush “Fix underexpose” on the face and shoulder area, and pulling exposure up a bit.

There are so many things you can do with these presets. Depending on your style, it would be really easy to come up with a formula and dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend editing. And for $31, it’s pretty much a steal to get this many presets and brushes.

Emily + Ron – Hamilton, Montana Wedding July 2017

Are you ready for some wedding blogs? The software I use to make albums has a blog collage feature! What an awesome thing! This is a fraction of the photos, but I can post so many more this way!

Ok. Enough about me…

Emily and Ron’s wedding, you guys! Not only are they completely adorable with each other, their wedding was super. It was on private property in the Bitterroot with a glorious view of the mountains and a private little field. They couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous sunny day (we could have turned the heat down a little…100 degrees most of the day) and during the ceremony we got some clouds which made for really nice light.

They had this RZR driving around that was super fun, and they had a horse and carriage! The guys rolled up on the RZR for the ceremony and the ladies were brought over in the carriage. So many cool details at the reception area too. There was a big sitting area with hay bales and a chandelier next to the dance floor and there was a sweet little family memory area.

And the most important part. All the love going around all day. So much love from friends and family and for each other.  Everyone should have someone who looks at them the way Emily and Ron look at each other. <3 <3 <3

Vendor information for their wedding:
Planner/Coordinator: Erika’s Event Planning
Catering: Caffe Firenze
Flowers: Flower Happy Florals & Gifts
Cake/Cupcakes: Petals & Pastries (Red Rooster Artesian Bakery)
Music: RMF Entertainment DJ Services (Jordan Waldo)
Horse/Carriage: Pioneer Carriage Services ¬†(I don’t think they have a website, but they’re in Corvallis ūüėČ
Rentals: Hamilton Party Rentals 

The Paige Marie Photography workshop!

I know I mentioned it before, but I absolutely love continuing education. For one thing, it’s important to remember that you can always learn something new. And it’s really fun to meet other photographers and see how they do things.

So, someone couldn’t make it to their spot at the Paige Marie Photography workshop at The Loft a couple of weeks ago and they posted it on Facebook. I snapped it up. Lots of fun things to talk about, a styled shoot at The Loft and in Greenough Park by Soir√©e 99 Events, tips from Brian Powers, a talk and Q&A session with Aimee Miklovic, an SEO guru who helped us with our Instagram accounts (seriously, check her out @assistantextraordinaire on Instagram).

The light at the end of the day was magical with cottonwood catching the sun (and my sinuses haha), so the styled shoot in the park was perfect. And we ended with dinner at Cafe Dolce, which is amazing. It was a very good day.

If you’re looking for a local workshop with a “rising tide lifts all boats” kind of feel, then I can’t recommend it enough. It’s so great when people work together.

Here’s a list of vendors for the day and styled sessions:

Venue: @theloftmissoula
Cookies: @upthehillcookiesbyjill
Rings: @rogersandco.finejewelry
Invites and Graphic Design: @heytayler
Floral: @soulandstemfloral
Dress: @velvetbride
Coordination and Tablescape: @soiree99events
Makeup: @skinchic406

Trying a new blog image layout…what do you think?

Booking for weddings and sessions is here. I’d love to talk to you!