Becoming a Beautiful Human

This week I was honored to receive an award from the Beautiful Humans Project for Photography.  I don't know if it is the organization and award names or simply the idea that someone wants to acknowledge me for doing something I love so dear, but this really is quite humbling.

This award program sought to recognize "those that have played a significant role in shaping the Twin Cities arts and entertainment industry from Fashion, Music, Journalism, Photography, Production."  I don't know if what I have done is significant, but it certainly has not been without some truly amazing and unforgettable collaborations!

Thank you, thank you to those that nominated me and those that decided I was worth the honor.  I have been a photographer for 25 years now and as I look back on that time, I have learned these simple truths:

Life is simple.  Do what you love and do it often!

Family is everything.  Never put the work first.

Live your dreams and share your passions.  
You will make great friends doing so.

With God by your side, the rest will take care of itself.


Congratulations to my fellow award recipients (shown below).  I cannot wait to work with you all (or again)!  And, last but not least, thank you to every photography assistant/slave, makeup artist, collaborative photographer and designer who helped me live this amazing dream of photography!

 

Delighted to share the evening with my favorite photographic assistant, Ariadne and to be photographed by one of MY clients, House of Nguyen fashion designer, Mimi Nguyen!

 

Image Award Winners

Talented people making the Twin Cities a more beautiful place through design, artistry, events and charity work.

Music Award Winners

Performers and talents whose music and work has not only gained them personal notoriety nationally but also enriched the Twin Cities.

Alternative Award Winners

Those who are contributing to and enriching the Twin Cities arts and entertainment scene in other ways.

Photography & Videography Award Winners

Those telling the stories of artistic passions and work through the lens, by placing the audience in a front row seat to a unique perspective.

Journalism Award Winners

People who have given a voice to their passions and professions through radio, blog, tv, web, publications and beyond.

  • Fresh Fruit - Quinn Vilagomez & Roxanne Anderson
  • Janna Peloquin 
  • UMMG- Pete & Kimberly Rhodes
  • Ethan Horace

Simply humbled to have one of these beautiful trophies now in my office!

Recognition also to the following:

PERFORMERS

EVENT SPONSORS

  • Twisted Hare Salon and Spa
  • The Family Tree Clinic
  • The Woman's Club of Minneapolis
  • Crown Lens Media Group
  • Fashion Odds Magazine
  • Tune Aria

EVENT PROMOTER

RED CARPET COVERAGE

EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Valerie Lockhart

This event included a silent auction with proceeds from the entire night benefiting Rare Productions.  RARE Productions is an arts and entertainment media production company. They promote, produce, and co-create opportunities and events utilizing innovative artistic methods and strategies.

Visit their facebook page to learn more!  

Making Their Voices Heard (and I get to capture it!)

Today, I learned that I am to be an official photographer for the Women's March on Washington - Minnesota.  I am excited to support this event - not only as a photojournalist to document the day, but also as a woman who feels the time has come when we must again join and speak up. 

Why do we march?  The fight for dignity and justice resides in all communities - especially in light of the rhetoric of the past election cycle which has insulted, demonized and threatened many of us. The Women's March is committed to ensuring that the voices of women from all backgrounds and identities are heard. In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore.  Through active recruitment and engagement of diverse groups and individuals, we seek to forge new alliances that will enable us to work together for equal justice in the months and years ahead.

To learn more about the Women's March on Washington - Minnesota, visit their website here or go to their facebook event page here.

As of January, 9th 2017, confirmed confirmed speakers include: 
• MN Senator Patricia Torres Ray
• MN Senator Sandy Pappus
• MN Representative Ilhan Ohmar
• Sarah Stoesz (CEO & President of Planned Parenthood Minnesota)
• Ann Bancroft (author, teacher, and adventurer. She was the first woman to successfully finish a number of arduous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic)
• MN House Minority Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman
• Trista Matascastillo (Three Branch Military Veteran, Founder of Women's Veterans Initiative & Sexual Assault Survivor)

Entertainment includes:
• Ann Reed
• Prairie Fire Lady Choir
• K Raydio


To see our official images, go to www.womensmarchmn.smugmug.com

The Womens March of Minnesota Official photographers included Christie Rachelle, Juliann Itter & Angela Whited.


To learn more about this and future events, go to www.womensmarch.com

Happiness is a Great Beautifier

Last night, I had a unique challenge. . . photograph a wedding  at night.  Panic set in when I realized I would have to choose between using flash to properly expose images, or make do with the natural light and what I my bag of equipment could make happen. 

The wedding of a very dear friend was held at The Trellis - an impeccable garden spot in Stillwater.  It was intimate and beautiful with loving friends and family at a candlelight ceremony and garden reception.   Yep... there was no way I was going to destroy the ambiance of this moment with flashes firing off.

As the evening wore on, I joyfully laughed and took in the perfect evening air, fighting back tears when I realized that everything under God's plan has a purpose and a schedule.  You see, the couple last night were high school sweethearts, getting married after decades apart and lifetimes of experiences.  

I have known the groom many years and adore him like no other.  Seeing this wedding last night and the images this morning, I realized - happiness is a great beautifier and the love we feel brings so much not only to our lives, but to those who love us.  His smile and the way he held his beautiful bride, I know his heart is renewed and there was no better place to be last night than watching these two bind their lives together.

To Randy and Debbie ~ thank you for letting me share in this joyful evening.  May you both enjoy a perfect future filled with joy, love, friendship and passion.

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Murphy!

I told someone recently that you can't always expect to find your soul mate 10 miles from your house.  Sometimes, you have to act on faith and venture out beyond your comfort zone.  I never realized how true this was until I met this couple.

Doug and Elizabeth met online (like many do these days).  She lived in Mexico, he lived here in Minnesota.  After some time corresponding online, he flew to Mexico to meet and spend time with her.  Only then did he realize she did not speak a word of English.  They found a connection and continued seeing each other.  When the time came for him to propose, he had her brother there to help with the translation.  Soon, she was living in Minnesota and they were building a new life and learning how to communicate with each other about life, love and experiences.

Three years later, they are now married. Their families are merged and their life will move forward together.  Their journey to find what God has laid out for them covered many miles, a lot of patience and trust.  But, watching the glances they stole of each other on their wedding day and the simple smiles they shared in quiet moments alone, it is clear... they have found the one person in this world that God put on this earth just for them.

Congratulations, Doug and Elizabeth!  

How can you not love groomsmen?  They are always the most spirited, amusing and playful group in the bunch!

Thanks for the many laughs, guys!

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Vermeer!

There is nothing more humbling than being asked by another photographer to photograph their wedding day.  It is even more humbling when the big day comes and you find yourself in tears watching this couple embrace their future with God at the center of all things.

Watching Madalyn & Logan step into their future together was such an honor and a true delight.  From the 75 clear and sunny day, to the loving friends and family that surrounded them, the wedding was perfect from the moment the morning came.  As a strong Christian myself, I was in awe seeing the many ways in which their spirituality was embedded into every moment of the day. Soon, I will post a full story of this day, but for now, here are a couple sneak peaks at their day.

PS.  Thank you to Eimilie Chellberg for working with me as my second shooter!  You are a rockstar!

A Day in the Presence of Love

When I first started committing time to photography, my greatest joy was spent in the presence of young couples.  Seeing how they navigated the space between them, the gentle touches they shared and the glances between them told it all.

Recently, I was given the honor of being asked to photograph the wedding of two beautiful young people, one of whom was a photographer herself.  As we moved through their engagement session, I delighted in the opportunity to see not only the vibrancy of true love, but also the fun of youth and two personalities perfectly matched.  They are destined to live a very blessed life with joy, love and caring at every turn.

Please join me in wishing Madelyn and Logan a beautiful life together!

Engagement_Madalyn_Logan_0010.jpg

Mi by House of Nguyen

In what has become my third fashion photography collaboration with the ever talented Mimi Nguyen, I was delighted to work this designer and this dynamic team on her latest line soon to appear at Showroom in Minneapolis.  

Mi's work is easily recognizable for its wonderfully feminine and beautifully detailed style.  It showcases the beauty and shape of women, emphasizing a woman's grace, elegance and natural beauty.  (Check her out on facebook!)  If ever I had a fitness goal, it would be to actually wear one of her signature gowns!

Thank you to the team that brought this shoot so seamlessly and beautifully together!

Fashion Designer
MI BY HOUSE OF NGUYENN

Models
LINEA HER
NESHA DONNELL

Makeup Artists
TODDI RODGERS
TEANNA MOYE

Hairstylists
DRE DEMRY-SANDERS
MELISSA CABLE

Photographer's Assistant
ARIADNE SNYDER

Videographer
TREVOR KIMOTO

Logistics & Planning
JR WALKER, SR

Looking for something amazing and unique to set your style off? Check out MiMi's Mi House of Nguyen line at Showroom (615 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408)!

Walk, Waddle, Run!

Today, I am happy to anounce that I will be a sponsor photographing the upcoming Officer Besser Memorial Sunshine 5k on May 14. This is a family fun run in honor of a fallen police officer, raising funds for Backing the Blue Line and the Officer Besser Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Officer Besser died tragically in 2015 by unbelievable violent circumstances.  Despite the newsworthiness of his death, it is his life for which he will be remembered and on which his legacy stands.  Officer Todd Besser was a United States Air Force Veteran and served the Elk River Police Department for 16 years. He was highly decorated, well respected and loved by all. He was well known for his "Good Morning Sunshine" to everyone. His personal relationship with God gave him a positive, happy outlook on life that was infectious to everyone he interacted with.

This May will be the first in an annual event called the Sunshine 5k - raising funds for Backing the Blue Line and a new Officer Besser Memorial Scholarship Fund.  It is an honor to be able to serve this event and I look forward to photographing the volunteers, participants and program this day along with my team.  You can learn more about this event and join me this day by registering here!

If you would like to make a donation to this great event, or become a sponsor, that would be awesome, too!

Fashion Odds Editorial: Men of Style, Influence & Culture

2015 marked the start of a series of new working relationships for me, including the introduction to Fashion Odds writer and stylist Parker XL.  After a brief introduction on a prior fashion shoot, I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with him again -  this time shooting an editorial for Fashion Odds magazine with an article centered on men's fashion and urban style, as well as artists who represent Twin Cities arts culture.

Combining the stellar designs of Blagk Customs with contributions from Macy's and the grace of several creative artists, the end result was a fantastic day strolling the streets of St. Paul soaking up the beautiful cobalt blue pieces against the crisp winter air.  I was delighted to have my world expanded to know these exceptional artists and see what amazing talents we have within our vibrant metropolis.   (And, being published again certainly didn't hurt!)

PS.  If you haven't checked out Blagk Customs, do it.  Do it now!  Seriously killer destructive pieces that are evocative, interesting and unique.  (www.facebook.com/BLAGKCustoms)

Thank you to this exceptional team for all that you brought to the table!

Creative Director
PARKER XL

Project Manager
JOSEPHINE REID

Assistant Creative Director
CHRISTIE RACHELLE

Stylists
PARKER XL, lead
ANTHONY AIGBOGUN

Wardrobe Provided By
BLAGK CUSTOMS
PARCS & PARKER
MACY'S

Make-up Artist
CHRISTIAN YBARROW

Models
KENICHI THOMAS, DJ
MOHAMED SAMATAR, Creative Planner & Performance Artist
ROMATIS, Music Artist
ANTHONY AIGBOGUN, Fashion Designer
PARKER XL, Stylist, Editor, Designer
ANDY FITTON, Musician & Electronic Artist

Videography
DESTINY ROBERTS

Fashion_Odds_Men_of_Style_0002.jpg

Part of the fun of seeing your work in print?  Collecting the tear sheets afterwards and seeing what images they choose to tell their story!  Click on the image below for a closer look!

Scarlett's Free Spirit

In my latest session for police families of Backing the Blue Line, I was delighted to have the opportunity to photograph young Scarlett as she celebrated her two year birthday.

Watching her tender heart and free will, one thing was clear.  She was a daddy's girl.  Knowing what a great protector she has in her father, it was also clear that her big sister was also always going to have her back and that one day, those two were going to have a lot of secrets and adventures that mommy and daddy would never know about!

Sessions with toddlers will never go as planned, but therein lies the joy!  Be it the adventure of running down sidewalk, kissing Elsa, spotting unexpected cats or curling up in daddy's arms to stay warm, this cool winter session will be one I will not soon forget.  We may not have gotten many smiles this day, but I cannot wait to see these darling girls again when we celebrate big sisters birthday this summer!  



Welcome to the World - Baby Haven!

Oh, how I adore working with Backing the Blue Line! 

Am I joyful supporting the police and their families?  Yes.  Amjoyful meeting so many new people in this line of work?  Yes!  But, WHY am I most joyful?  Because this week I got to hold and photograph the tiniest and sweetest little newborn!

Miss Haven Joyce Helen came into the world just one week ago weighing 4lbs 15 oz.  (Just ounces larger than my own daughter so many years ago.)  Working with this darling newborn was like working with an angel.  She lay so soft and still, simply allowing us to work.  When we put on her parents beloved Green Bay Packers headband, she even cracked a smile.  Now... how can you complain when this is what you do for a living?

Work?  Yeah... right!

Congratulations to St. Francis Police Officer Stemme and his wife Katie on the latest addition to their family.  Soon we will capture the family together with a proud big brother, but for today, I hope you enjoy some sugar and spice and everything nice!

PS.  This session was another collaboration with my second shooter (and daughter), Caroline!  It was especially sweet as for the first time she got to see how tiny she was when she was born.   Caroline was the principal shooter on this session and did a great job!

Sometimes, its Justice. Sometimes, its Just Us.

When I first started working with Backing the Blue Line, I knew I would be spending a lot of time with wives as they supported their husbands in law enforcement and the communities they serve.  What I didn't truly realize is how much I would come to enjoy seeing into that world and meeting the families they live each day to protect.

Recently, I traveled to Staples to spend time with Officer Maros and his family.  What made this day absolutely perfect was not his beautiful wife Tina, or their incredibly sweet and lively children.  But, instead at the onset of our 2-hour drive to get there, I got pulled over by the cops.  I haven't been stopped since my children were babies, but on the very day I am to shoot my first law enforcement family, I was speeding through a construction zone and got pulled over.

It was almost comical, if not poetic! 
(Fortunately for me, the officer gave me a very kind warning and let us on our way.)

As I move forward with plans for other work with Backing the Blue Line, I am delighted to have this outlet to support law enforcement families.  Seeing Officer Maros in full uniform, I realized I suddenly became nervous.  (That same panic when you see them in your rear view mirror... oh gosh, am I speeding?  Did I miss a stop? Is that really a gun on his hip?)  Then, I saw him get down on his knee and smile with his children. 

That is when I understood what Tina meant when she said 'Sometimes, its justice.  Sometimes, its just us.'

And she said YES!

I don't know if anything can ever compare to the moment you are standing with your camera waiting for that moment when one person will stand before another and ask "Will you marry me?"

Last night, Caroline and I had such an honor when two high school sweethearts traveled from Bemidji to enjoy a vacation in the big city.  It was a surprise proposal and a moment when my being there would be a secret and a gift for her.  What Miss Amara did not know was that Nic and I had become old friends by then, talking many times via phone about his love for his girlfriend and the many plans he had for this important night.   Though it was incredibly cold and my camera lenses definitely did not like focusing in the frigid temps, it was a wonderfully clear and crisp night.

When all was said and done, it was a moonlight stroll across Stone Arch Bridge and a surprise performance along the way by the band Timeless of "You Dance' by East Mountain South that brought Nic to his knee with the all important question.  Amara said yes, and it was a perfect evening as the musicians, Caroline and I celebrated with them in their joy.

Congratulations to Nic and Amara! 

PS.  Check out Timeless and their great music on Facebook or their website!
 

Enchanting Light

These past few weeks have been a snowstorm flurry of activity as I worked to wrap so many portrait, wedding and event sessions.  It is that time of year when photographers must put away their cameras and spend so many more hours locked behind a computer screen bringing to life the images that will become a legacy for each client's family.

Today, as I spent yet another hour editing, I was captivated by the beautiful setting sunlight that came pouring through my window.  It has been such a beautiful early winter here in Minnesota, I realized that I had not taken the time to truly appreciate it.

So, for ten minutes, I put down my laptop and picked up my camera.  It was me, my pajamas and the Mother Nature's golden light, but for one moment, I felt energized and remembered everything I love about being alive and being a photographer.

Through the Eyes of a Lens

I love Minnesota!

I love that every season brings with it a new breathe of beauty, texture, color and details more breathtaking than the last.  Once the fire driven color of fall leaves have given way to the ground, there is a touch of sadness that life is passing.  Looking out over so many fields this time of year, it is easy to blow past the rolling hills of brown as sad remnants of summer.  I hear so many already yearning for spring.

But, as a photographer, I tend to embrace this time and encourage everyone to pause and take a closer look.

When I step to this field and lift the eye of my lens, it is this delicate texture that I see.

On this perfect fall Sunday afternoon, I don't know what was more beautiful, the delicate pale textures that remained or the elegant beauty of Inver Grove Heights senior Alicia.  Working on this girls preview will definitely be a task I look forward to!  Until then, everyone... enjoy this most perfect Minnesota fall!

A Visit From One of My Favorite Families

Over the years, I have been blessed to meet and know many families. Some I capture a simply moment in time, others I get the opportunity to work with them time and time again.  Recently, it was one such family who reached for me to capture the next senior in their family.  First, came Katherine... then came Tess.  Now... it is handsome Bill! 

With such a charming wit and Bill's bold blue eyes, it was a definitely a great way to spend the evening and a fun session all the way around!   Enjoy the rest of your senior year and good luck as you move forward in the adventure of your life!


A Glimpse Into Black Pearl

Recently, I was honored with the opportunity to work again with Samantha Rei, one of the Twin Cities most stylish of designers.   Don't know her?  You should!  Check out the latest on this inspiring designer:

I worked with Samantha Rei years ago under her Blasphemina's Closet label on her Second Star line, and was delighted to see those photographs published in her latest book.  When she approached me to work with her again, it was like... ummmm YEAH!  Is that even a question?!

This time, we were celebrating her latest line 'Black Pearl', a collection inspired by 1920's Shanghai.  Beautiful silhouettes, textures and details, this collection captures the most beautiful aspects of vintage style.  With a tag line of Beauty. Strength. Rebellion.,  Samantha strives to help women feel confident, strong and comfortable in their own skin. She believes they can all be beautiful warriors and with this latest series, they can be!

Learn more about Samantha Rei on her website.

Designer: Samantha Rei
Makeup Artist & Hair: Miranda Carlson
Models: Jeweldine McGee, Kiyanna Greene, Kyle Wagner, Faraz Ghassemi
Headpieces: Apatico
Jewelry: Realia by Jen
Shoes: Call It Spring
Location:  Clubhouse Jager

So many more images to come, but for today, enjoy a sneak peak into Black Pearl!

Strength of Steel and the Charm of the (Minnesota) Wild

Photographing newborns is always a moment of sweetness.  A calm quiet house, the enchantment of the little fingers and toes, and the stillness of a sleeping baby.  Though most newborn photos will take some time to capture, it is usually a simple waiting game for baby to settle in sleep as you move them through the poses.

Meeting Baby Lyndon, Caroline and I expected the same.  Little did we know he had something else in mind!  Talk about the strength of steel . . . this beautiful little boy at 7 days old was wide awake the full 2+ hours we were there, with a finger grip that could cut circulation.  He was determined and strong and we were bent to his will! 

Though he would leave a special mark on mom during our session, seeing the sweet hat from grandma, his first teddy bear from grandpa and all the fun hockey toys and Minnesota Wild outfit, this little boy charmed our hearts and gave us such a fun session.  Seeing his strength and the love of his family and friends, we know he will achieve all that drivesand nurtures him.

Congratulations, Chin family!

PS.  This was another Caroline Anne session, with Caroline behind the lens and Christine getting to play with oh-so-cute little baby!

In Service of Another

I have volunteered photography services for military personnel for years.  It has always reflected the service of my own family members and that which I hold dear.  

A little over a year ago, I was shaken by a news story of a local police shooting.  Officer Scott Patrick was no one I knew, nor did I live in his community.  Yet, through the beautiful smile of this man, I was engaged by his story.  When his funeral was streamed online, I watched from my desk tears streaming down my face as I thought of his family and all that they lost that day.  From that moment on, I knew I wanted to extend my photography work to include Police families.  I didn't know how, but in time, I knew God would show me a way.

Days turned into weeks, weeks to months.  News reported so many shootings, questions of police integrity and calls for change from both sides of the issue.  Every time some spoke of Black Lives Matter or other issues of the political tide, I thought of Office Patrick and spoke aggressively in defense of all that officers do.  Again, I prayed that God would help me be of better service to these people who do so much for me, even though most days I think nothing of the risks they take or all that they do for my family.

This past month, God did just that when Backing the Blue Line: Police Wives of Minnesot was looking for an official photographer for their organization.  After submitting a proposal, I was honored to learn I had been selected.  Before my feet could hit the ground to work with them on headshots, Police Balls and fundraising events, I had my first job.  Another officer had been shot in the line of duty and I would be photographing a rose preparation.  Okay... not how I had hoped to start, but this is what comes with the job.

I arrived at the station and began to shoot, observing so many beautiful wives working in service of another.  At first they were quiet, introspective of the realization that it could have been their husband, then sympathetic when they likely thought what Deputy Sandberg's family was going through.  In time, they began to laugh, as women do, and the work moved along.  As I worked to capture these charming women and the 2,000 beautiful roses, my attention was caught by a single t-shirt "Faith, Service, Integrity.  Remembering Officer Scott Patrick".  I felt my heart grow heavy as I realized this group of women were likely working this same way for Officer Scott's family.  Then I saw the woman wearing the shirt and I began to shake.

It was Michelle Patrick.

I cannot tell you all that it took to keep from crying, or to maintain my composure when I finally met her.  (Yeah... I rambled like an idiot.)  I remember the tears that day watching her at her husband's funeral and the wish I had to do ANYTHING for women like her who lose so much so my family can be safe.

I guess seeing Michelle was God's way of putting me right where I asked to be.  

As I close this long post, I look back to my photography blog where I posted about Officer Scott so many months ago.  (You can read it here.)  Such a strange circle of life we all live in.  Seeing what has transpired since that day in July, I realize that God is always guiding me, even when I do not yet fully see the course.  

Today, I give pause and prayer for both Officer Patrick's family and Deputy Sandberg's. In protection of the police wives working last night, I will not post their photos here.  Instead, one simple photo in recognition of their time last night and all that they do in service of their husbands and the sacrifices they make.