I know how lucky we are to travel as much as we do. We’ve been able to make decisions that have helped us pay down debt, and we make choices every single day that allow us to travel fairly regularly. A lot of our travel is to visit family, or is tagged on to a work trip for one of us, but we try to get in one good vacation each year. A few years ago, we realized that the best way to survive the long, dark, and cold winters in Spokane was to get away for a warm weather break. So, when I was pregnant with little miss and we knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere that winter (and it was a rough, rough, winter), H promised me we would finally go to Hawaii the next winter.
Maui was a dream, you guys. I’ve traveled all over and been to tropical islands before, but Maui is like living on a different planet. It was the most beautiful kind of place, and I left a little piece of my heart there. That said, it wasn’t the easiest vacation by any means. N was recently mobile, is a 100% winter baby who prefers snow and cold weather to hot weather and sand, and we made some key mistakes. Oh, and it rained half the time we were there. It was weird. But these photos don’t show that.
— We stayed near baby beach in Lahaina and really loved it. We walked into town a couple times and also drove in once or twice as well.
— Places we loved: Down the Hatch, Frida’s Mexican, Maui Brewing Company, the Pride of Maui Snorkeling Tour, the Maui Ocean Center.
— Baby beach was shallow and perfect for littles, but a little tame for our more adventurous swimmers. It’s nice and flat, which I loved. 100% would go back there, and there’s a decent amount of parking by it too.
— Please wear reef safe sunscreen anytime you’re in the ocean. Save the fishes.
It’s been a long while since I did any Tips for Clients posts and I’ve missed them. Have you? I thought I’d tackle a big one this time – things your photographer wants you to know, and maybe has even told you, but seem to be hard for non-photographers to get. I’m focusing mostly on weddings here, but a lot of this applies to my Spokane portrait photography clients too, so even if you’re not engaged or planning a wedding – read this!!
1. We want you to print your photos
Ya’ll. Digital is amazing, but I can’t tell you how much it breaks my heart to hear people say that they got married a year or five or ten years ago and they don’t have any prints. Digital photography has been an amazing accomplishment, and I love that it gives me the ability to affordably shoot so many more images for my clients, and to send them flying around the world via the internet. But at the same time, it’s not fun to pass down digital files, and in this age of Marie Konda and KonMari-ing everything, one thing we seem to neglect is our digital clutter. So, please, print your photos. Choose five or ten and stick them up on your fridge. Find an awesome frame or three and take a few into work. Pick out that one WHOA shot that we got of you two heading off into newlywed bliss and blow it up and stick it up on your wall. Design an album. I don’t care if you got married last year or two decades ago. You want an album? Let’s design that. I can even do the design work and you can order it from one of the consumer labs I recommend if a heirloom album isn’t in your budget. But please, find a way to make it fit your budget. They’re so good.
2. And to back them up so they don’t get lost
Each year, I get an email or two from past clients that sound something like this:
I know it’s been a while since my wedding, I hope you’re doing well. Uh…we (moved/cleaned/reorganized/decided to finally print a photo/our computer died) and we can’t find our photos! I’m sobbing right now and I really hope that you have our gallery somewhere because I’m heartbroken.
Ya’ll. Do not be this client. And if you are, pray that your photographer is as obsessive as I am about back ups and has copies of your photos archived where they are accessible. Because this goes hand in hand with the first thing we want you to know. If you’ve got some prints or an album, you’ve got something left if your photographer for some reason doesn’t have your digital files still. And most of us have in our contracts that we’re not obligated to keep our archives. Most of us are also absolutely neurotic about making sure your photos get to you safely, so we’ve got you covered. But seriously. If you have a digital download of your gallery, download the images to your harddrive and also back them up online. I like Dropbox and Google Drive personally, but a lot of people love Amazon’s storage options too. If you have a USB drive or CD – download them to you computer and do the same thing. And then order some prints. :)
3. Most importantly, we want you to love yourself and get photos taken
Nothing breaks my heart more than showing up on a wedding day to a fretful bride or groom who pulls me aside and tells me how they don’t like a part of their body, how they tried losing weight but they didn’t hit their goal before the wedding, or how they really don’t love the way they look in photos, so ‘I’m sorry if I hate all of them, it’s not your fault.’
This is so much deeper than just getting your photos taken, but let me tell you this. As a photographer, I do my best to show you how beautiful you are. Especially on your wedding day (or right after having a baby), it can be hard. Emotions are high, you’re worried about how you look, and you have worked so hard for this day. But please, even if you’re terrible at backing up your photos or printing them out, please please please, listen to this. Love yourself. Get the photos taken. Enjoy your laughter, your tears, and your moments. They don’t happen again. They can’t be re-lived. And the photos will be so precious to you and your family years and years from now. And while you may have shown up on your wedding day worried about your flabby arms or the nose you’ve never loved, twenty or thirty years from your wedding day, you’re going to smile softly and think Dang. I was a total babe. Why didn’t I appreciate it more?
So please, love yourself. Enjoy the process of being photographed, and know that I deliver only images that show real emotion, real love, and real beauty. So if you’re looking at a photo I delivered and you think to yourself, but Emily! I can see my double chin. I want you to also look at the love shining in your eyes, and the joy radiating from your entire being on the day your marriage began.
And! If you’ve been recently married, please remember to get photos of the two of you and then any other family members who join you in life. Especially if it’s been ten or twenty years since you got married. Celebrate those year. Celebrate the life you’re living. Someday, you’ll want those memories to look back on.
That’s it, friends. Those are the things I want you to know more than anything. There’s a lot of other things I meant to say, but somehow, when it came down to it, the three things I really want you to know are to embrace the moments, back up your photos, and print them out so you can enjoy them.
I have been so bad at catching up on blogging. I have so much I want to share, and I’ve been getting side tracked. Now that it’s almost this lovely couple’s first anniversary, I know I needed to get this blogged!
From the moment Vanessa reached out to me about her wedding to Brittney last summer, I knew I was going to love these two. Vanessa told me they knew exactly what they wanted – a small wedding with their family and friends, something that they could easily plan long distance from their home in Western Washington. And that’s exactly what they had! It was a beautiful wedding, and I very much enjoyed spending a few hours with these two and their lovely families.
Sometimes people ask me if working with couples long distance is harder. Nope! I planned my wedding long distance, (in the dark ages, haha) before there was much online for long distance or destination wedding planning, and so I’ve worked very hard to make it easy for couples to do everything they need to do online. Yes, sometimes it’s stressful because you can’t reschedule an engagement session to next week because they are only in town for two days. Yes, sometimes we have our all “coffee date” meetings over Skype or the phone. Yes, sometimes I show up to a wedding and I walk into a room of beautiful people and ask “who’s getting married today?” but sometimes it’s super obvious, because there are two beautiful women in white dresses standing in the middle of the Davenport Hotel!
Vanessa and Brittney, thank you for welcoming me into your wedding day, and for introducing me to your sweet families. It was an honor to meet you, and I hope that someday our paths cross again!
When you’re planning a wedding in a more rural area – basically any area that isn’t a major city center – it’s hard to find information on venues and vendors online. You’ll find listings for vendors in major cities – I’m looking at you Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia – on national websites, but it’s hard to find them for areas like Spokane, much less the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Yakima, or the Methow Valley and Winthrop.
So, here are a few of my favorite venues in Eastern Washington that I’ve worked at before. I’m also including a list of places I haven’t worked, but – hint, hint! – I would love to be your wedding photographer there. Contact me to find out if I’m available for your wedding date. I know that planning a wedding in a smaller town can be hard (we did it back in 2011!), so I’m always happy to pass along recommendations for other vendors I love.
Cave B Inn & Winery
I feel like I could write a love letter to Cave B Inn, and it would never say all the things I want to say about this gorgeous venue. Not only is the view out of this world, but the food is amazing and the staff are wonderful at taking care of their couples. When I photographed Jen & Chris’s wedding there last July, they were happy to share tips on little spots for photos that we may not have known about – since I’d never been there. Even though part of the Cave B was closed off during Leslie & Drew’s destination elopement (because of this little group called the Dave Mathews Band playing at the Gorge), they let us know where we could go and were so happy for us all. Someday, I’m going to go there for a night off and eat at the gorgeous restaurant and stay in one of the yurts! It’s an easy drive from Seattle or Spokane, and since there are plenty of accommodations on site, you don’t have to worry about where your guests will stay after the wedding.
Mazama Ranch House
The first time I drove up to Mazama, I fell in love. And each time that I have a wedding in the Methow Valley, I fall a little more in love with this beautiful slice of our state. Some day, I may just decide to stay and never leave! The Mazama Ranch House has a beautiful barn and – like Cave B Inn – rooms on site. These kind of locations are perfect for smaller, destination weddings. You could get married here in the snow, but I’ve only photographed Mazama weddings in the summer and fall. The Mazama Ranch house has the most wonderful red barn I’ve ever seen, and getting married here is just like getting married at a cabin in the woods. Someone, please book me for a winter wedding up here!!
Spring Creek Ranch
My other favorite Methow Valley venue is in the larger town of Winthrop (Mazama is a hamlet, or maybe a village). Spring Creek Ranch has a beautiful old home, a gorgeous location with views of town, and while it feels secluded, it’s right at the end of Winthrop. Less than 5 minutes from the downtown area and you can walk there over a stunning foot bridge. Unlike the more cabin-like feel of the Mazama Ranch House, Spring Creek Ranch is more like getting married at your grandma’s beautiful old house, surrounded by the most stunning scenery. The Methow Valley is a small community, but don’t think that because it’s small, they can’t throw an epic wedding. They can – and do – host multiple weddings in the Methow Valley each weekend. The vendor who work in the Methow are amazing, and they love showing off their part of the world.
Fontaine Estates Winery
Oh, Fontaine Estates. This sweet little winery is tucked away in Yakima, and while their website isn’t very great right now, their Facebook page is updated often. Or you could check out one of the adorable weddings I photographed at Fontaine Estates. I love that this space is so flexible. You can have a country wedding or a simple and classic teacher inspired wedding (complete with lunch trays) in the same space. It’s a perfect blank slate, but in a way that doesn’t take too much work to make it look stunning. Does that make sense?
Other venues in Eastern Washington
If none of these venues feel like the place you want to get married, maybe one of these other venues will be the place for you and your fiance. [listed alphabetically]
Foundry Vineyards (I was here for a private dinner, and it is STUNNING)
Marcus Whitman Hotel
The Methow Valley
Mazama Country Inn (I haven’t photographed a wedding here, but I’ve stayed here twice, and I really like it)
Sun Mountain Lodge
The Tri-Cities & Benton City
Belle Fiore Gardens
J. Bookwalter Winery
The Capitol Theater
River Ridge Golf Course
Yakima Valley Museum
Chelan, Leavenworth, & Roslyn
Sleeping Lady Resort
Unless anything else crops up in the next couple weeks, this is my last wedding of 2017, and my only one up in the Methow Valley. I’ve talked before about how much I love the Methow, and I love Methow Valley weddings. This was no different.
Heather & Craig were married on Saturday, and it was the perfect fall day. We had such a blast, and I cannot thank them enough for bringing me up to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to share more!!