"And that's why people should come to you." | Denver Portrait Photographer

Saying goodbye to Paris

This past week was bittersweet. In my own way, I finally had to let go…and say goodbye to Paris.

A Portrait of Maggie in Paris at dawn

A Portrait of Maggie in Paris at dawn

For everyone who so faithfully followed along on our Paris adventure last year (thank you!), you know how much went into creating every single image. And you probably also thought that everything came to a close the moment we arrived home.

Nope.

My job as a denver portrait photographer is not to create digital images to be viewed on a mobile phone. That is not the heart of my business. My clients commission me to complete their experience with a luxury heirloom. Professionally printed and matted images in a custom folio box, fastened securely with a satin bow.

Delivering my clients their folio box always means that my time with them has come to a close…at least for the time being. It makes me smile and breaks my heart all at the same time. But I find peace in knowing that I’m sending each client off with something that will keep the experience we shared alive forever. And Maggie was no exception.

A new family heirloom

Although we returned back to Denver from Paris months ago, Maggie only stayed in the U.S. for a brief moment before leaving the country again for work. It was only last week that she returned to Denver…and I was finally able to put in her hands, for the very first time, her folio Box.

I always feel emotional watching my client’s reactions. Seeing Maggie touch her heirloom for the first time was no different. The usually cool and collected MAggie immediately burst into tears upon seeing her finished product…and tears quickly turned to one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen.

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Her boyfriend was with her…and to see the joy on his face, as well made me remember the reason why I do what I do.

We take photographs as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.
— Katie Thurmes

You see, Paris was amazing. Incredible. Unforgettable. But it was, in reality, a few days out of our lives. And because MAggie’s Folio Box exists, those several days of bliss will now live on forever. Not just for Maggie.

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But for the people who love…and will love her, one day.

Exist in Photographs

My photography studio in Denver is a print and product based business. Does that mean I don’t sell digital images? No. I do both. And only both.

 
A sleek acrylic USB drive, containing a backup of Maggie’s images.

A sleek acrylic USB drive, containing a backup of Maggie’s images.

 

What I mean is that the digital files my clients purchase only serve as a backup on their computers…and yes, to share on social media with loved ones. With every print the client takes home, she gets some form of a digital file that matches that image. But my clients never, ever take home only a digital file. That would be a complete and utter disservice to them, even if they didn’t realize it right away.

Technology is constantly changing. Constantly. My Macbook Pro isn’t even brand new and it doesn’t have a USB Port! What is new and innovative today will be laughed at in ten years time. And if all you get from your photographer are digital images on a stick, before you know it you won’t even be able to plug it in, anywhere!

The other thing to remember is that many photographers delete old sessions to create more space on their hard drives. If they don’t have your files on their computer years later…and you never backed up yours because, well, life…and something happens to your files...

Well…there go your memories.

This happens far too often and i realized early on in my career that an all-digital business model was the absolute wrong fit for me. It may work for some people, but not me. And truly, my clients all agree.

 
The images from Maggie’s experience in Paris were professionally printed with an incredible lustre finish. A gorgeous matte is also available.

The images from Maggie’s experience in Paris were professionally printed with an incredible lustre finish. A gorgeous matte is also available.

 

When Maggie was looking through her custom, handmade folio box she was absolutely beaming. She quickly commented on how incredible the quality of the paper was, something that you cannot get from your local pharmacy photo lab. When you leave your photographs in the hands of a professional, who has access to the professional labs and luxury products out of reach for most people, you will walk home with something extraordinary…and made to outlive you.

Maggie’s folio Box contains 25 mats and weighs almost 15 pounds! Every Folio Box is handmade and upon arrival, white glove inspected by me.

Maggie’s folio Box contains 25 mats and weighs almost 15 pounds! Every Folio Box is handmade and upon arrival, white glove inspected by me.

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With countless color and Fabric combinations available, every client is sure to treasure her custom heirloom forever.

With countless color and Fabric combinations available, every client is sure to treasure her custom heirloom forever.

Much of that appointment is a blur to me. But I will remember forever what Maggie said as she took out the very first mat from her new folio Box. Through tears, and without looking up, Maggie said…

 
 

“And that’s why people should come to you.”

Thank you, MAggie. We’ll always have Paris.


I empower everyday women by giving them the Fashion photography moment they once thought was out of reach.

 
 

I am a Denver Portrait Photographer and I want to photograph you next. To learn more about the experience I offer and to book, please click here.

Stop Dreaming Too Big | Denver Portrait Photographer

I almost wasn’t a photographer

I’d like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I was making my living as a professional dancer. I was starting to burn out, though. I had first danced for a major company and was a small fish in a big pond. Then I left and became a big fish in a small pond somewhere else. I toured the United States with those companies. Then, near the end of my 20’s I danced all over the world after joining the production cast on a cruise ship, with the intention of saving money to become a parent.

I was going to become a parent via surrogacy. But to my utter disbelief, I not only lost my son to miscarriage…I became a victim of a surrogacy scam and had an ongoing police case for a full year.

I’m pretty sure, looking back, that this was the darkest chapter of my life…at least, in the limited time that I’ve been a human being. But during that time, something incredible happened: I said yes to becoming a professional photographer, well before I thought I was ready.

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A friend of a friend had seen my work and wanted to hire me as her wedding photographer. now by “my work”, I do mean the results of playing around with my first DSLR as a frequent wedding guest. But despite my own self-criticism and limiting beliefs, she was fully prepared to hire me.

I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.

Why? Because I was not a professional. I had no idea how to photograph an entire wedding from start to finish by myself. And I had absolutely no idea what to charge…or even how to accept money for this hobby that I had.

But as I sat on the decision…and after speaking with a very wise life coach…I realized that I had no idea what else I was going to do with my life moving forward. I had walked away from my professional dance career…I had lost my son…I had no job…and I was running out of money, and hope, very quickly.

So before I could talk myself out of it, I picked up the phone and agreed to do the wedding. I sold my old gear and upgraded…And three months later…by some miracle…I survived professionally photographing my first wedding.

I almost wasn’t a dancer

I say “by some miracle”, but it really wasn’t. It just felt like a miracle, since I had walked into that wedding day with complete uncertainty in my ability to survive it, not to mention take one photograph that was in focus.

In reality, I got through the wedding because I prepared.

I crammed for that wedding like my life depended on it. And by saying “yes”, I knew I had a deadline. I pushed and pushed myself…read books…took two groupon classes…enrolled in an online course…watched endless video tutorials…became addicted to pinterest…studied and studied the work of other photographers…and more than anything, I kept putting one foot in front of the other while heading towards the finish line.

Unbeknownst to me, the “finish line” would just be the beginning. But it all started because I said “yes” to something that scared me.

My second year of ballet training. Photo Credit: My Mom

My second year of ballet training. Photo Credit: My Mom

Years later, wearing almost the exact same outfit onstage with Miami City Ballet. Photo Credit: Bob Mooney

Years later, wearing almost the exact same outfit onstage with Miami City Ballet. Photo Credit: Bob Mooney

The same thing happened when I was a child.

at 7 years old I was quickly becoming obsessed with ballet after seeing “The Nutcracker” on television. My parents agreed to sign me up for ballet classes. But when the day arrived for me to start, I froze up and couldn’t walk into the class. I felt terrified….overwhelmed…and utterly paralyzed with fear.

My mother walked into the class by herself and spoke to the teacher, who said I was welcome to wait outside and take the next class, instead. I’m not sure how I agreed, but I did. I took my first ballet class that day. I took my second the following Saturday. And I kept doing that over and over again. Until suddenly I was a teenager.

I didn’t want to be a professional ballet dancer at first; I wanted to be a doctor. But I kept taking classes. One day at a time. Until one day it hit me: I did want to be a professional. I did want to turn that hobby of mine into a job. And after years and years of hard work, I was offered a contract with one of the top ballet companies in the country. IT still blows my mind that it actually happened.

And I wouldn’t have been able to sign that first contract…or perform alongside some of the most amazing artists in the world…if I had not said “yes” to walking into an intimidating ballet class many years before. And continuing to say “yes” to every ballet class over the years, one at a time.

Success doesn’t happen overnight

I look back at that first wedding and I feel lots of emotions. I feel proud…really proud…that I got through it. I feel gratitude for the couple trusting me with so little experience behind me. And, truthfully, I feel frustration. I look at the images now…and if I could redo everything, I would photograph their day so differently.

But I had to photograph them the way that I did, otherwise my journey as a photographer would have been very different.

My style has evolved at a rapid pace since that first wedding. And while this website is dedicated to magazine-style portraits for women, I am also a Denver family photographer (with the very, very occasional wedding). Both genres have become things I specialize in. But that did not happen overnight.

 
 

The following images are from the very beginning of my professional career compared to my most recent work. It’s important to note that my early clients were posing the way I posed them…lit the way I chose to light them…and edited the way I knew how to edit. My clients did not magically become better…I just really didn’t know what I was doing when I started. I became increasingly desperate to evolve in the direction of the artists I idolized most…and one session at a time, I became a better photographer.

I am still on a journey. But here is how far I’ve come, so far.

(for a side by side view, please turn your phone horizontally, or view on a desktop or tablet)

Wedding Couples Before

Wedding Couples Before

Engaged Couples before

Engaged Couples before

Babies Before

Babies Before

Groom portraits before

Groom portraits before

Self-portrait before

Self-portrait before

Bridal Portraits Before

Bridal Portraits Before

Women’s portraiture Before

Women’s portraiture Before

Wedding Couples Now

Wedding Couples Now

Engaged Couples now

Engaged Couples now

Babies Now

Babies Now

Groom portraits now

Groom portraits now

Self-portrait Now

Self-portrait Now

Bridal Portraits Now

Bridal Portraits Now

Women’s Portraiture Now

Women’s Portraiture Now

One day out of your life

When I began this journey, long before I was a professional, I was already scaring the shit out of myself by dreaming far too big.

What I mean by that is, I was dreaming so big…so far down the line…that I couldn’t help but focus on how far I was from my self-inflicted “finish line”. I would look at the professionals…even other hobbyist photographers…and feel so very, very inferior to them. I felt I would never be any good and that my work would always be awful.

 
I still sometimes cannot believe that this image exists for one of my own clients. The first time I ever saw images from the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, it was from a photoshoot for Vera Wang. I was certain I could never plant my feet in the same place as that fancy photographer…but by putting one foot in front of the other I proved myself wrong, and eventually created this.

I still sometimes cannot believe that this image exists for one of my own clients. The first time I ever saw images from the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, it was from a photoshoot for Vera Wang. I was certain I could never plant my feet in the same place as that fancy photographer…but by putting one foot in front of the other I proved myself wrong, and eventually created this.

 
 
 

Perhaps there is something you dream about achieving or experiencing in your life. Perhaps you’ve never even said it out loud. And perhaps you’ve never taken even one little step towards that goal because of the same mistake I made: dreaming too big, too fast.

Now please do not think, for one tiny second, that I do not believe in goal setting or vision boards or aiming high. I do. I believe in all of that!

What I have found, though is that the end goal you want to achieve is quite possibly going to be one day out of your life once you finally achieve it. That promotion…that award…that vacation…that marriage proposal…that new car…that day you own a business…they are all one day out of your life.

The real work is in the before and the after.

Whether it’s the work that you must do on yourself once you’re in the committed relationship that you’ve dreamt about, coping with the new responsibilities at your office once you’ve received that long-awaited promotion, or figuring out how to maintain a healthy work/life balance after you have become an overworked business owner and entrepreneur, the truth remains: the most important work…and the most fulfilling joy…exists in the before and after of the day your dream comes true.

But you will never get there if you dream too big on day one, to the point that you scare yourself into never even taking the smallest action.

One brick at a time

I have been a photographer for over a decade, but I’ve only been a business owner a few years. I never wanted to own a business…it kind of just “happened”, as if the ripples of my life pushed me to the challenge. And while it’s a challenge I decided to embrace and take on, several years later I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

But I don’t need to. That is, I don’t need to know how to get to the end goal by the end of today. And neither do you.

All you need to do is show up, do the work, and put one foot in front of the other in the general direction of your biggest dream. it is fine to dream big when you go to bed at night. You should. But when you wake up each morning, dream small. Dream about achieving one small task that maybe scares you a bit, but will get you one tiny step further on your journey by the end of the day.

You may feel like you’re moving at a glacial pace. You may feel as if you are trying to build a house one brick at a time, but only allowed to lay one brick a day. I get the frustration. I’m right there with you!

But one day, you will show up and look at those bricks that you’ve laid one day at a time. And your jaw will drop. because in amazement, you will realize that you’re standing in front of a whole house. Perhaps not the design you originally intended, but a house, nonetheless. And it will exist because you said yes to putting one brick on top of the other, one at a time, day after day.

I don’t know what your dream is, but I believe in it. And I believe in you. You do not need to know the perfect way to start a new journey. But by all means, Start! a future version of you is asking you…begging you…to say “yes” to something small today.

Will you?

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Start by doing 1 push up. Start by drinking 1 cup of water. Start by paying toward 1 debt. Start by reading 1 page. Start by making 1 sale. Start by deleting 1 old contact. Start by walking 1 lap. Start by attending 1 event. Start by writing 1 paragraph. Start today. Repeat tomorrow.
— Power of positivity | Facebook.com

I empower everyday women by giving them the Fashion photography moment they once thought was out of reach.

 
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I am a Denver Portrait Photographer and I want to photograph you next. To learn more about the experience I offer and to book, please click here.

 
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A Clear Message | Denver Portrait Photographer

Denver Filmmaker?

When I photographed my client in Paris last year, I decided to take short video clips that would potentially be tied together to create a behind-the-scenes video for both the client and my marketing. But between you and me (and the Internet), having a camera that has video capabilities does NOT make one a professional videographer or Filmmaker!

I honestly didn’t really know what I was doing. But a number of professionals in my industry had told me that video marketing was becoming huge for their businesses. And since I did not have the budget for a film crew to follow us around Paris, I decided to have a go at it myself. I truly didn’t know if any of the footage would even be usable, but I took it, anyway.

When we returned from Paris, my only real focus was to begin the arduous task of editing and retouching the still images. And there were a LOT to sort through, as you can imagine. It was only at the completion of my editing process that I even felt tempted to peek at the video clips.

near the end of 2018, I finally got to it. And those several second video clips, one after the other, created something that I’m really proud of.

Dresses, dresses and more dresses

I purchased a lot of wardrobe for my client Maggie’s Portrait sessions in Paris. It was one of my first times doing this, although before Paris I did have a few simple tulle skirts for clients to wear. But Paris had to be extra special and I knew we would be there for more than a week, so I needed more than just a tulle skirt or two.

Red Ball Gown

Red Ball Gown

Flower Ball Gown

Flower Ball Gown

Gold Dress

Gold Dress

unbeknownst to me, the Portrait Client Glam Closet was in the process of being born.

 
Bar Suit

Bar Suit

 

I bought dresses/accessories not only for Paris…not only for Maggie…but for all future clients to potentially wear. With the exception of the Replica Bar Suit (inspired by Dior), the wardrobe started with rather affordable pieces from Amazon or Etsy. But by the time I finished editing the final images from Paris, I knew that I wanted to improve even more on the collection I was starting to build.

As a Portrait Photographer, I take copyright quite seriously. But once I found out that fashion designs are very difficult to copyright and that producing garments inspired by luxury and couture pieces is totally legal (not to be confused with counterfeit garments), my eyes started to light up!

I contacted several dressmakers from overseas and asked each one if they could create a dress greatly inspired by photographs I could link them to. And to my delight, they said yes! I showed one dressmaker images of a stunning Ballerina-inspired tulle gown by a famous designer, and several weeks later was sent this image:

 
The glam closet is born

The glam closet is born

 

My jaw dropped. I immediately started picturing all of my future clients having the red carpet moment of their dreams. And I knew in that moment that the Glam Closet had officially been born.

An answer comes in the middle of the night

The dress looked beyond incredible. And as I waited for its arrival to my denver office, I started dreaming about what else could be added to the closet in 2019. But I was facing a really big problem.

People…random individuals from Google searches, my social media followers and even close friends…still did not understand the service I offered. This has been a huge frustration and hurdle for me in my business. So many people confuse me for being a fashion photographer. Professional models Direct Message me on Instagram asking to do what’s called a “Time for Print” or “trade” shoot and I have to explain that I don’t photograph models, I photograph real people. And real People comment on posted images, “oh, your models are just so gorgeous!”

This is one of my portrait clients. She is not a professional model. Her hair and makeup was professionally done (courtesy of LStyle Bar), her wardrobe/Accessories are from my Glam Closet and her pose was fully directed by me as I photographed her. the two things I clearly remember her saying at her reveal appointment are that she couldn’t believe it was really her in the photographs, and that she had felt “fancy” the entire experience. She is a normal…and extraordinary…everyday woman.

This is one of my portrait clients. She is not a professional model. Her hair and makeup was professionally done (courtesy of LStyle Bar), her wardrobe/Accessories are from my Glam Closet and her pose was fully directed by me as I photographed her. the two things I clearly remember her saying at her reveal appointment are that she couldn’t believe it was really her in the photographs, and that she had felt “fancy” the entire experience. She is a normal…and extraordinary…everyday woman.


Calling my clients “Models” is meant to be a compliment. But it actually makes me cringe.

My service…the experience I offer…is empowering real, everyday women by giving them the fashion magazine experience for the day. I am not a fashion photographer. I’m a portrait photographer. And all I long for is to give non-models the model experience that they thought was so out of reach for them. To give them the opportunity to exist in Magazine worthy photographs that will literally outlive them.

For all of 2018, I was struggling with this. The clients that got it, really got it. They understood what I do…and they felt empowered beyond words once they experienced it. But I knew that I needed more people to understand my business and I knew that it was my responsibility to communicate a clear message in my marketing. I just couldn’t figure out how. truthfully, the frustration over this has brought me to tears more times than I can count or want to admit. And I’d be lying if I said I haven’t felt tempted to close the doors on my business more than once.

 
Just Moments after getting hit with a spark of inspiration. it felt like magic.

Just Moments after getting hit with a spark of inspiration. it felt like magic.

 

One night I was in my office browsing the music selection on the website used to create the Paris video. The selection of music was overwhelming and only some of it was, in my perfectionist opinion, usable for my clients. In my mind, I would first take the video clips at each future portrait session, string them together, and then find the perfect music during the editing process to be the soundtrack of a behind the scenes video to show the client.

To save myself time in the future, I decided to browse the entire library, one track at a time, and favorite the songs I thought I might use one day. This was weeks and weeks ago…but I’ll remember what happened next forever.

In a daze, I was scrolling…clicking…scrolling…clicking…when suddenly I stopped. A piece of music started playing and instantly it was like I had stuck my finger in a light socket.

 
 

Images started absolutely flooding my mind’s eye, one right after the other. The first image was of the ballerina dress that had just been completed. The next was the person wearing it…somebody I had never even photographed before. And the next was the story I needed to tell. Her story. And the story of women just like her.

The images continued to snowball all night. I played the music over and over, and each time my arms would finish covered in goosebumps. I realized that in making this video, I would not only be able to create something extraordinary for a special client (in addition to her still images), but I would be able to very clearly spell out to my audience what my business is truly about…and who it is for.

I was so invigorated that I could not sleep. I waited and waited for Martin to wake up. The moment he did, I ran to him with a full mental storyboard of my idea. And then I played him the music saying, “that will go there…that will go there…that part will be out of focus…that is a close-up…”. When the music ended, Martin’s eyes began to water. He looked at me and said…

“Mark. You have to make this video.”

Dress Arrives

 
The dress was incredibly disappointing upon arrival. Yay.

The dress was incredibly disappointing upon arrival. Yay.

 

Later that week, the dress in question arrived. And truthfully? IT was a disaster.

It looked amazing in the photos I was sent. And yes, I had been sent photos of the actual dress I received. But there were problems. The biggest being the structure of the bodice, and that it had none.

The dress is a strapless dress, constructed of mesh and tulle. But unfortunately, the see-through bodice had no boning in it. And no breast cups. So unless the dress fit absolutely perfectly on the client, it could totally fall off (which is totally a look…but you know, not what we are going for). Clear and detachable plastic straps were included…but that was not how the original dress looked and frankly, I felt the straps took away from the (potential) beauty of the dress.

Furthermore, without the belt tied at the waist, the top part of the dress looked like long tulle streamers (see above photo). The belt was required to both form the tulle covered bust, as well as the first tier of the skirt. But even with the belt tied tightly, the moment the client would lift her arms, the tulle would shift and expose the breasts.

I felt like an idiot for spending so much money on a custom dress. Until I remembered Michelle.

 
Custom corset created for my office by Michelle.

Custom corset created for my office by Michelle.

 

Michelle is a corset-maker right here in Denver. And an incredibly, incredibly talented corset-maker at that! She created two custom corsets for my office that truly still take my breath away. So I knew that if anybody in Denver could fix this disaster, it would be her.

I sent her a message…she quickly showed up in my denver office…and after taking a quick look at the dress (as well as two others I had made from the same dressmaker), she said she could absolutely add boning/structure to the bodice and save it from going out the door!

Dress comes back from the hospital

While Michelle got to work on rescuing the new dresses, I went back to brainstorming my upcoming video project.

I reached out to somebody who had expressed past interest in becoming a client, but unfortunately she had become very busy and didn’t seem available. I started reaching out to a couple other people, both who had interest in my work and potentially wanted to be clients in the future. As I waited for responses to find one person ready to commit…and as I listened to the hypnotizing music on loop day after day…it occurred to me that I needed to involve more than one woman in this project.

Which, of course, meant more dresses!

I searched for and found a better dressmaker. And overnight I think I single-handedly started paying her rent!!! Kidding. Kind of.

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There are more dresses in production now. And more sizes of the dresses pictured will be added to the glam closet. But this past week, I was delighted beyond words when Michelle returned with the dresses from the original dressmaker, including the ballerina-inspired dream that was the foundation for the marketing video taking over my imagination daily.

A dress to make your ballerina dreams come true

A dress to make your ballerina dreams come true

The mended dress truly took my breath away. The bodice was now fully boned, the tulle was all sewn down at the waist, and the belt was changed to better match the belt of the original inspiration dress. In short, Michelle truly saved the day!!! To see Michelle’s etsy store and to commission her for your own custom corset, please click here!

 
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Follow along on the journey

I am so glad that my photographer friend challenged me to get back into blogging! Not just because it’s a great creative outlet, but because I can give all of you a glimpse into the world of being a portrait photographer, as well as show you what it’s like to build and run your own business.

The video telling the story of some very incredible women is still in its very early stages, but I invite you to follow along on the journey to the completed project by visiting this blog every week!

Thanks for reading.


I empower everyday women by giving them the Fashion photography moment they once thought was out of reach.

 
 

I am a Denver Portrait Photographer and I want to photograph you next. To learn more about the experience I offer and to book, please click here.

Stay Connected | Denver Portrait Photographer

Happy 2019!!!

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Yes, I realize it’s March. But I never said that my New Year’s resolution was to stop procrastinating!

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Side note before we get started: did Paris Really happen??!!! It still feels like a dream!!!

Speaking of facing procrastination, that is why I am returning to this blog!! When we were in Paris, I challenged myself to blog once a day. That doesn’t sound like a big commitment, but when you are waking up every morning before dawn and then on your feet most of the day, the last thing you sometimes want to do before bed is stare at a laptop and type. Not because I don’t enjoy writing.

I enjoy it too much.

And by that, I mean that I’m an incredible perfectionist when it comes to my creativity. So i find it hard to write a blog quickly or without stress. And unfortunately, the desire to write a “perfect” blog every time often results in no blog…and this habit has stopped me from doing what I love most: connecting with, inspiring and empowering people. But more about that in a minute.

A few weeks ago I started sharing a bit of my past via Instagram. It was basically the story of how I unexpectedly became a portrait photographer during a rather dark time in my life. I’m not really sure why I shared. I just felt it was time. and somehow, people connected to it. Somebody even told me that I was more addicting than Netflix!

I got one message after the other from my followers thanking me for sharing, and thanking me for inspiring them to move through their own adversity. Every message was beautiful…and every message touched me deeply. But one that stuck out to me was from a fellow photographer. I greatly respect this photographer and look up to her more than she knows, so to be told that she was inspired by me kind of blew my mind.

We got to talking. Some about art. But a lot about business.

All I want to do is empower women by photographing them like they’ve always dreamed and give them the experience of a lifetime!! But taking photographs is actually such a small part of running a photography business. The best part. But a surprisingly small part.

All I want to do is empower women by photographing them like they’ve always dreamed and give them the experience of a lifetime!! But taking photographs is actually such a small part of running a photography business. The best part. But a surprisingly small part.

As you can imagine, it can be overwhelming running a small business where you wear countless hats. And as a creative, it’s far too easy to only want to do the creative tasks on a neverending to-do list. but In reality you have to focus on tasks that aren’t as fun or creative, but required for your business to stay afloat. If you don’t, you have a hobby…not a business.

But why, the photographer wanted to know, was I no longer blogging? After all, that’s a very creative outlet. And writing is actually one of my strengths.

I wasn’t really sure. Maybe I was afraid that nobody would ultimately read what I wrote. Maybe the people who would read it would hate what I wrote. And then there’s the whole “I have so many ideas, I don’t know which to pick. So I just pick nothing, instead” shenanigans.

These are also known as excuses.

The photographer and I agreed that we both had our own weaknesses…and we committed to pushing each other to face those things, ditch the excuses and hold each other accountable each week.

So that is why today’s blog exists. And I will start off with where I left off in my mental blog list: Thanksgiving 2018.

Make a connection

I love to travel. And because I take forever to do anything (including getting out of the house), I prefer to travel by car. But at thanksgiving I opted to fly the 1000 plus miles home in order to return to Denver a couple of days later and get back to work.

I’m not a huge fan of flying. Not because I don’t like the plane ride. Not because I don’t like the idea of getting to my destination faster. But because I don’t like being on somebody else’s schedule. On airport travel days, I tend to feel so stressed trying to finish last-minute packing…getting our dogs to the sitter…navigating through heavy traffic…waiting in line after line at the airport…rushing to catch a connecting flight. And all when I could be peacefully driving on my own schedule.

If you’ve ever/always wondered what the airport looks like at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning, Your wait is over! Pun intended.

If you’ve ever/always wondered what the airport looks like at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning, Your wait is over! Pun intended.

The irony of all this is that we will run and run to make a connection…only to arrive, sit around a bunch of strangers and not connect.

I ended up flying at the buttcrack of dawn on Thanksgiving day. I flew through security thanks to ClEAR, which I absolutely recommend getting (Like, yesterday). And when I arrived to the gate, I was told that I had been upgraded to first class! “I should fly more often!”, I chuckled to myself.

I was seated in the front row of the plane, which secretly made me giggle as I remembered the episode of “Friends” where Chandler and Monica try to sneak into the first class lounge. when asked to show their tickets, Chandler says that he memorized his seat (1A).

But I digress. What were we talking about…?

Right. First class.

I was seated next to a woman who I immediately started stereotyping. It’s unfortunate, but it’s so easy to do. She was in first class…so she must be a snob. Or at the very least, she would be able to sense that I didn’t really belong there…that I was upgraded, but it hadn’t made me upper class. She probably was a CEO of some big company. Maybe she had a bossy power personality and she chose the front row of the plane to have a sense of control.

I didn’t want to think these things. But I did.

A meal was served. I was attempting to look totally unimpressed, like I flew first class constantly. And that’s of course when I spilled part of my drink in my lap. And dropped some of my breakfast on the floor. And suddenly chewed twice as loudly as I normally do.

“ugh. Maybe I should have refused the upgrade. Or driven.”

Time passed. Even though it was crazy early, I couldn’t really sleep. Neither could my new snobby neighbor. At one point, she got up to go to the bathroom. I had already noticed that she was well dressed (duh…she’s a cEO, remember?). But as she returned from the bathroom, I noticed that she had some very fabulous boots on.

“Compliment her”, I told myself. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.

It’s so normal nowadays to connect to your connecting flight…connect to your phone charger…connect to snowballing anxiety about the future…yet it feels abnormal to be present and connect to the person in front of you. Or in my case, right next to me.

“I love your boots.”

Had I really said it? I don’t know where I got the courage. I was pretty sure she was going to coldly and quietly say thank you and then pretend to sleep (or anything to avoid the crazy stranger talking to her). I was sure I knew how she would react. But I said it anyway.

Time slowed down as I waited for her to respond. And when she did, I was shocked. I’m not sure why I was so shocked, but I was. She smiled an incredibly warm smile that I can still see in my mind’s eye, and said thank you in a voice I can still hear. She was grateful. And kind. and pleasant. And lovely. And…I was wrong.

Her name was Alice. She was born in Zimbabwe. She worked tremendously hard at school to earn a scholarship to attend college in the United States…an opportunity not taken for granted in her country. She was now living and working in Salt Lake City, Utah and flying East to see some of her family who also live here. And despite excelling in school and doing her job well for years, she had total indecisiveness about the field she was working in…and unclear if she was following her true passion in life.

We exchanged stories. We talked about our families. I asked her about the culture in Zimbabwe and if she missed it. I gave her the title of a couple of books that changed my life. And by the time the plane landed, she told me that our conversation was one of those rare conversations that she would never forget.

And none of that would have happened if I chose to stay silent and disconnected.

It was a risk. She could have been cold and ungrateful like my imagination had painted her to be. But if she had, it would have been more about her than me. And if she hadn’t liked my company, I would have survived and moved on. The same thing is true with my writing. Or even my photographs. I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But I want, more than anything, to stay connected to the people who I am for. Who appreciate and are inspired by what I put out into the world. So thank you, Alice if you’re reading this. You taught me to not judge a book by its cover that cold early day in November. And you taught me that when we have the courage to connect with one another, we welcome in the possibility to change somebody’s life forever.

 
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Until we meet again.

 
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What’s in store this year?

I have some very, very exciting things happening this year and cannot wait to share with all of you!!! Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll talk a bit about what put this twinkle in my eye!!!

 
Something’s cookin.

Something’s cookin.

 
 
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The Experience of a Lifetime | Denver Portrait Photographer

What’s next?

Wow. What a relief it was to release those images yesterday!!! Although it was hard to let them go for the reasons I mentioned in my previous blog, it was also like a weight off my chest. And honestly, the comments that have come rushing in via Facebook and Instagram have touched me beyond belief. Most importantly, Maggie is absolutely thrilled! And that makes my heart happier than I can express in words.

 
Thank you, everyone!!!

Thank you, everyone!!!

 

So what is next?!

Well, first and foremost, I am a Denver Portrait Photographer. So the majority of my current clients are right here in beautiful Colorado! But as you may have guessed, I adore traveling! I say that I am available worldwide…and I am…but typically if I’m traveling to an out of state/country client, they are responsible for my airfare and accommodations. If, however you schedule your portrait session when I’m already traveling where you want to be photographed, there is no travel fee!

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Although I’ve put a ton of focus on this side of my brand, I’m also a family and wedding photographer. When you’re finished reading this blog, scroll back up and check out my work by clicking here!

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My next trip involves photographing a wedding in beautiful Ireland! I will be blogging the images over on the other website, so stay tuned for that! Ireland is one incredible place and I cannot wait for my return!

 
Ireland is everything.

Ireland is everything.

 

In the first half of 2019 I will return (again!) to Ireland, with likely trips to London and Paris added on. Within the U.S. I will be going to both Memphis and Baltimore. But the announcement I’ve been waiting to share with all of you is that for the very first time, I will be traveling to…

This image has nothing to do with where I’m headed next. Just enjoy.

This image has nothing to do with where I’m headed next. Just enjoy.

Iceland!!!! That’s all I Can say for now. But as that new journey unfolds, I will absolutely be sharing here on the blog!!! If you have any interest in booking your portrait session for the above locations, please begin the process here. There you can learn about the full experience I offer, and from there you can contact me to begin the exciting process of booking!

Princess Dreams

I know that some of you were following along with the Paris journey since before we even left, while others of you are just now learning that Maggie has basically missed her calling as a professional model!!!

What I want to emphasize is that my clients are real people, just like you. My portrait sessions are all fully directed; you do not need to know how to “be a model” when you arrive. But if I’ve done my job correctly, you will leave feeling like one. Many of my clients have never been photographed professionally, aside from their wedding day. You do not need to have any experience. Instead, let me give you an experience that you will treasure forever.

Please click play on the above video and enjoy!

 
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My princess dreams have come to life in these. Thanks for the best experience.
— Maggie
 
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Jardin du Luxembourg | Denver Portrait Photographer

Dream a little (or big) dream

Just over a year ago I had a dream and set a goal to photograph a client in Paris. I wrote it down and made it public. And as I sit here, it bewilders me that not only did that dream come true, it’s now weeks…nearly months…behind me. I think it’s because of that that I’ve been unable to publish these final images from Paris.

I’m used to living with my dreams. I’ve dreamt of being a parent my whole life and I’m often shocked that I’ve made it to 35 childless. And yet the odd thing is, the wanting…the yearning…the constant visualization of parenthood, sits by me like an old friend. I’m better acquainted with the dreaming of that dream than the living of that dream. Some dreams take a long time to come to fruition. But Photographing a client in Paris came to life way, way faster than I anticipated. And I just haven’t had the courage to admit that it’s really over.

 
 

I know that Maggie was the first of many portrait clients I will photograph in Paris over the full span of my career. But there is something so incredible and irreplaceable about the first time you have an experience like this. It is so dear to me that I’ve kept it very, very close to my heart.

Let it go

I saved the portraits from the Jardin du Luxembourg for last because standing there, camera in hand, was pure magic to me. The Luxembourg Gardens may not be quite as iconic as the Eiffel Tower or Versailles, but those magical trees are what inspired me to set a goal bigger than I felt I had in me. And because of that, I had to wait till the end to share these images. I’m now ready to let go…

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These images will always remind me that absolutely anything is possible when you have a clear vision and focus.

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And while it was the rows of trees that brought us to Paris, it was another part of the Jardin du Luxembourg that unexpectedly sent me home with my favorite portrait from our entire adventure.

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I want to thank everyone who has followed along on this journey so faithfully. I hope that it inspires you to dream way bigger than you’ve ever allowed yourself to do before. And I hope that you can now see the amount of time, planning, work, care and love it takes to create heirloom art for such extraordinary clients. It is my sincerest hope that whoever is reading this becomes the next subject in front of the lens of my camera. I cannot wait to photograph you. To book, please click here.

 
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And while I have now revealed all of the finished images from Paris, there are two more surprises! In tomorrow’s blog, you will see the long-awaited behind-the-scenes video from Maggie’s Dream Portrait experience. And though it has been so hard to let go and move forward, 2019 is truly right around the corner…and I already know where I’ll be traveling to! Stay tuned for the announcement tomorrow.

it’s going to be epic.

 
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All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
— Walt Disney

The Eiffel Tower at dawn | Denver Portrait Photographer

An (almost) American in Paris

Today is an exciting day in our house, as My European beau will officially become American!!

My handsome assistant/leprechaun

My handsome assistant/leprechaun

The last time I attended a naturalization ceremony it was my own in the early 1980’s! I came here from Brasil as a baby and obviously have no recollection of being anything but American. So it’s been exciting watching the process from another perspective…and I can barely wait for the ceremony!!! Make sure to wish Martin good luck in the comment section on Facebook!

Of course, it’s so ironic that Martin has worked so hard to become American when I basically feel I should have been European!!! And speaking of Europe…

A dream dress

Months ago I was certain I had all the wardrobe needed for Paris. To be honest, I felt I had too much. But one night I couldn’t sleep and started browsing the internet, when I stumbled upon a gorgeous ball gown. I felt a bit conflicted about it…I wasn’t sure how Maggie would feel about the floral design…but I decided to take a chance and go with my intuition.

Before

Before

I’m gay

I’m gay

I’m so glad that I did because when I pulled it out of the package, I full on gay gasped. And before MAggie came to my office to see it, I took some time…well, a lot of time…and applied Swarovski crystals all over the bodice.

Maggie is a very quiet and reserved person. But I think her voice sped up and raised an octave when she saw this dress.

“ooh, yes…I…I really like this one.”

 
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IT made my heart smile to see MAggie so excited…and the moment I had the thought, “maybe this should be the Eiffel Tower dress”, I felt a chill rush up my spine.

Magic at sunrise

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Although I loved the way Maggie’s natural hair looked with the ball gown, I wanted to do something a bit more vintage-inspired and dramatic. I commissioned Carl Brown to make a blonde wig that would add some magic to our first portrait session in Paris. And oh my bread…did he create some magic!!!

 
 

Carl said that when people come to him for styled wigs, they often want to look just like Dita Von Teese and that while he loves that look (and creates it very beautifully), his bigger passion was actually in creating something even more artistic and unique. And it’s true…upon seeing the finished product I said that I’d never seen such an intricate style on a wig before!! It also felt amazing to let another artist have the freedom to create from their heart. I’ve quickly learned in business to only photograph what I want to photograph, in the style that makes me happy. I’m no use to the world, otherwise. Too many photographers try to photograph every genre and be everything for everyone, when at the end of the day they feel empty inside.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman
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I will never forget how exhilarating it was to be at the Trocadero at sunrise, when I had dreamed of being there for so long. It’s a very popular spot for photography at any hour, even first thing in the morning. I had so much anxiety about getting my dream shot for Maggie, wondering if we would be fighting off a herd of photogs who had the same idea. But somehow, we did it!

 
Getting that perfect shot!

Getting that perfect shot!

 
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I worked a long time to get these images done, as there was a lot more post-processing required in comparison to many of the other portrait sessions. And while I know that these have been some of the most anticipated portraits from our time in Paris, I have saved my absolute favorites for last. Please stay tuned…the Jardin du Luxembourg is next.

 
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Link of the day

Today’s link is a chance for you to invest in YOU. I have heard many of you lovely ladies say that you “stalk the blog”. I’m so flattered by this! And it’s time that you get INTO my blog and my work into your hands!! Life is too short to live vicariously through other people’s experiences. I don’t know who you are, but I want to help you be “that girl in the magazine”. To learn more and to book, please click here!

Lady in Red | Denver Portrait Photographer

Creating artwork

A photographer’s work does not start and end at a portrait session. In fact, it’s often just after I get home from photographing somebody that I say, “ok…may the work begin”!

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The image above took around three hours to edit and retouch. People are often shocked that it’s more complicated than sticking an Instagram filter over my work and calling it a day! Instead, a tremendous amount of time and energy goes into every single finished image that I create for my clients. I want them to truly feel that they have commissioned me for heirloom artwork, and to accomplish that I must allow lots and lots of time for every single portrait I plan to deliver.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I post a lot of my editing process for you to see via Instagram Stories. For those who haven’t seen this process (or want to watch it again), I’ve saved a recent Instagram Story where I show the editing of an image from start to finish. Remember that this is about three hours cut down to 21 minutes and that some images will take less time, others more.

When I saved the story from Instagram, there was a clicking sound between each short video that I couldn’t edit out. Sorry about that!

Lady in Red

 
Maggie in a Denver fitting. Thank you, Facebook followers…the red looked amazing!!!

Maggie in a Denver fitting. Thank you, Facebook followers…the red looked amazing!!!

 

After putting a poll out on my Facebook page, I opted to bring a burgundy ball gown to Paris. We were going to be staying in a fancy place, so I needed a fancy party dress for Maggie to wear!

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Out of all the wardrobe I had in my suitcase, I think it was the petticoat that went underneath this gown that took up the most space! But it was absolutely worth it!!

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These portraits were all taken on our last full day in Paris. We were all completely exhausted and starting to yearn for home, but to me they are just as gorgeous as the images from day one when we were fresh, rested and enthusiastic!

Speaking of the beginning of our trip, my next blog will reveal the images from our very first portrait session in Paris. And if you haven’t been following along or can’t remember, that means images from the Eiffel Tower!!! I’m so excited for you to see! Stay tuned.

 
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Link of the day

I couldn’t create what I do without the help of my glam squad! They truly make magic possible!! Please check out our incredible Paris Hair/Makeup Artist’s page and give it some love!!! Click here!