Archive for Photography Topics

Engagement Sessions Are So Engaging!

ama mustard
I’ve been wanting to start an AMA – Ask Me Anything – series on this blog. So… let’s start with a very common question that I hear from pretty much everyone.

What’s the deal with engagement sessions?

First a story: Once, while getting a manicure, I over-heard a very disgruntled woman talking to her friends about how ridiculous engagement portraits were and how obviously the photographer was just gouging them (parents of the bride) for more money. She was really upset and it literally took all of my self control not to say anything to her. I knew that no matter how calmly, eloquently, or excitedly I explained the many benefits of having an engagement session that she would hold to her opinion. So instead I sat there, letting my hands soak in pretty smelling water, and really reflected on why I love engagement sessions so much. I encourage all of my couples to also book an engagement session with me when we first sit down over coffee or skype to talk about their wedding photography. Some couples already know that they want one, while others need a bit more convincing. …recall that I said encourage, not force, not demand, not guilt trip.

Here are the reasons that I encourage all of my couples to book an engagement portrait session:

  1. It gives me an opportunity to learn how you respond to the camera before your wedding day. Believe it or not people can get weird the second a camera comes out. Known as “camera awareness” and my mortal enemy, the concept is pretty straight-forward in that people can become awkward when they anticipate being photographed. An engagement session helps us break down that awareness so that you can get into the moment with your special person. It’s also really helpful for me to see how you naturally interact with each other, how you smile, if you’re a blinker, or maybe you have some bad selfie habits. These are all things that I really should know before one of the most important photographed days of your lives together.
  2. Learning vocabulary. An engagement session is measurably more casual than our portrait time on your wedding day. This makes it a great opportunity to learn some vocabulary and posing basics so that things can go more smoothly when we’re more pressed for time and everyone is full of wedding adrenaline. V-shape, turtle, compress, and “give me your chin” are concepts that I want to sit in your brain and turn into natural muscle memory.
  3. It’s an opportunity for you to give me feedback. Many couples have never had professional portraits taken before so they really aren’t sure what they want or how they work best with a photographer. All the pinterest boards in the world aren’t as good as actually experiencing something; this holds true for portrait photography. Too much direction, not enough direction; more candids, more formals, you see where I’m going. Again, this is feedback and expectations that we want communicated before your wedding.
  4. They’re fun! …and useful. An engagement session is your opportunity to tell your friends, family, and guests all about yourselves as a couple. Where you live, where you met, where you got engaged, what you like to do together, how you get all googly-eyed and silly when they look at you, express your style and interests, and maybe show off the fur babies. I tell my couples to think of these sessions as a date for three… you’re going on a date and I’m there to be your visual voice. Engagement sessions also offer visual variety and an important time stamp to mark the season and changes that will occur over the course of your engagement. Thinking about using a photo for your save the dates? Boom! Want to string up photos of the two of you, that aren’t just selfies, at your wedding reception? Bam! Gramma been wanting a portrait of her favorite grandbaby and bae? Done!
  5. Establishing trust and confidence.There’s one thing that makes any given portrait look a million times better… confidence. Unfortunately we live in a really critical culture where everyone is a hot mess for the internet to poke at your insecurities. 🙁 I’m going to do everything in my natural super powers to make you look your very best. Posing, lighting, helping choose outfits, etc I want you to feel great while you’re having your portraits taken and I want you to trust that I have my eyes on everything. I have a very light hand in my post-processing, I’d much rather fix something in person than in photoshop. Pro-tip: It’s software, not magic. I had an engagement session last summer that turned out beeeeeautifully! I found out later that they whole time the bride-to-be was reminding herself that her BFF’s engagement and wedding photography that I did the year before turned out great and to trust me. “She knows what she’s doing, she knows what she’s doing…” because lemme tell ya sometimes the things we need to do to make something look great, don’t feel great. 3D humans vs. 2D photography. Of course she looooooved her portraits and now she knows from her own experiences that she can fully trust me and she will look beautifully confident on her wedding day!

goofy phoenix arizona couple climbing a wall redhead bride to be with fiance cuddling in lamar missouri laughing and walking on oregon state campus love never fails summer engagement session cuddling at abiqua falls silverton oregon too cool for oregon state school engaged couple engagement session at the rose test garden in washington park portland oregon cuddling on a bench in lithia park ashland oregon military engagement session at evergreen aviation museum mcminville oregon offbeat bride and groom engaged at apple orchard eugene oregon

Whitney + Garrett | Pacific Northwest Nautical Rustic Seattle Space Needle BFW

Seattle Space Needle Winter Wedding Photography-50

A few weeks ago I blogged about working in Phoenix for The Big Fake Wedding (BFW), now it’s time to show off the Seattle show. Unfortunately this was the event where I broke my ankle last fall… sigh. Before we get into all the pretty photos let’s recap so that ya’ll remember what BFW is and why it’s so awesome.

Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the team the organizes BFW series all over the US. I applied to photograph the Phoenix and Seattle shows and couldn’t be happier with my experience working at both events. The vendor teams totally brought their A-game and I’m crazy in love with the concept behind the BFW…

Complete with a cocktail-style dinner, an emotional vow renewal ceremony and a dance-party reception, The Big Fake Wedding has become a killer alternative to a bridal show. The hand-selected vendors perform their services as they would at a real wedding, and the “wedding guests” (brides-to-be!) get to hear the music, taste the cakes, and smell the flowers… while enjoying a night of great food, dancing and surprises.

I was worried that it would be strange or competitive working with other photographers that weren’t working for me, but the other photo teams were just as excited as I was to participate in an event that fosters community over competition. We helped each other when needed, made sure that each other got time with all the bridal details, and even took a couple photos of each other working. Overall I’m going with “Magical” for my description.

When Whitney went to visit her brother in San Diego, who knew that she would fall in love with his roommate?! The only problem was that she lived across the country in Orlando. Garrett asked if he could come out to visit her, and she said no, but he booked a flight anyway. He came out, spent a week with Whitney and her family, and then what happened next is a direct quote from Garrett (because it’s just too sweet not to share verbatim). “After the best week of my life, I was all in and knew I would marry her someday.” Aw, shucks. By the end of the trip, Garrett asked Whitney’s dad if he could move to Orlando to date her, and a year later he proposed on the dock where they sat that first week and fell in love.

What is the best date you have ever had? From her: My favorite date we’ve ever had was our first one. I was in San Diego for the weekend and he told me he was picking me up to watch the sunrise. He got me at 4:30 am, we got some coffee, and went to Torrey Pines and climbed a lifeguard stand while we waited for it. The conversation was great so the sun was pretty much up by the time we realized – the sun doesn’t “rise” on the west coast. It was definitely behind us. He still gets made fun of for that.

What is the most awesome thing about your marriage? From him: The most awesome thing about our marriage has been the constant growing of “in loveness” that we have felt for one another. It feels like through each season of life we have come to we become better friends and more united.

One of the things that completely sold me on working with the teams at The Big Fake Wedding is their commitment to promoting healthy, happy, and lasting marriages; not just inspiring people to live out their wedding day fantasies. It would be so easy for them to say “Great, thanks for coming, good luck with that whole being together forever thing.” I believe that as a professional who witnesses dozens of weddings each year and who works to build a relationship with each of my wedding couples, that it is so important for me (and my fellow creative vendors) to encourage those couples in their marriages. One of the ways that I believe I can do this professionally is to give their wedding photography my full attention, deepest care, as well as being a calm and confident fixture on what can be a very stressful day. My wedding day goal: Bride-chilla. …not Bride-zilla.

Now you might be asking, “Why would you want to photograph an event in Seattle? You’re an Oregon photographer!”

Well let’s just say that while I LOOOOOOVE OREGON and would never dream of living anywhere else; I also love working in new places, I love to travel, and I love Seattle – The Emerald City. While Seattle has the same general “wedding season” as the rest of the PNW it has some pretty fantastic urban scenery. I also serve Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Colorado.

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Recharging in the middle of nowhere…

Whenever someone asks me if I get tired or bored of working with my own business I give them the honest answer, “Duh, yes!”

We all get bogged down, we all feel uninspired, we all wish that the work would magically get done without us sometimes. For me this tends to happen about twice a year – in the spring and in the fall. The spring funk is mostly rooted in the fact that not so many folks get married in the winter in Oregon. I’ll have spent the previous 3ish months doing back-end work on my webpage, updating print media, meeting with couples for consultations, and the occasional engagement session. The gray skies can make the winter months difficult so by the time March rolls around I’m itchin’ to get back to work, but I’m feeling out of practice and in a funk. The fall freakout is a little bit different and has been with me since college. This one occurs around October and comes with a panicked questioning of everything I’ve ever known! FREAKOUT!!! 

Both the funk and the freakout are not terribly helpful, take up a lot of my energy, and have the potential to lead to fear-based decisions. In my last blog post I talked about community, competition, and fear… If you haven’t had the chance to read it, click over there, then come right back.

We all have our ways of recharging, resetting, and realigning – the way I do it is to get the eff outta town! John and I are big fans of Eastern Oregon, high deserts, and being at least one hour away from anyone else… so that’s usually where we end up. If we have the time and don’t mind a barebones campsite we’ll take his motorcycle, but if we want to camp with more comforts or if we’re a little pressed for time we’ll take his truck. In March our friend, Bob, was in Oregon visiting from Santa Fe (we also looooove the South West). He was the one who introduced John to Hart Mountain a few years ago and we were very excited for all three of us to get to go together and be in the quiet. Hart Mt is very special. The 278,000-acre area is a national refuge for pronghorn antelope and other species with a 4,000 ft elevation difference from its highest to lowest point. This trip was focused on taking it easy and just enjoying being the only people out there. Our first night a storm rolled in, dropping the temperature and dumping several inches of snow on us. I was freezing all night… and my new focus was just staying warm.

The next day was amazing!!!  The snow eventually melted in the sunny spots and we spent the day exploring a basin farther into the refuge. Tiny flowers were emerging and fresh signs that the animals were out on the prowl all pointed to spring. There were also a lot of arrowhead pieces poking out of the newly bare soil. We explored for hours… I even got a little sunburned. We soaked in the sun while it was up, because we knew another cold night was coming once it went down.

After taking Bob to the airport John and I decided that we really needed some motorcycle time. We quickly unpacked and repacked (our living room looked like a garage sale was happening) our gear and planned an overnight route for the Painted Hills in Central Oregon. Neither of us had been to that area, but we knew it had a great reputation for motorcycle touring as well as breathtaking scenery. We stayed at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell (not to be confused with Hotel Oregon in McMinville) and had some really tasty burgers at the diner down the street, before turning in early. Apparently the “gas station” across the street from the hotel used to keep a live BEAR in a cage for people to look at. We were up before the sun to get started on our route and ended up needing every inch of daylight to see everything we wanted to see and still make it home in the same day.

I came back fully recharged and ready to hit the ground running… Thanks Oregon!

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>>> Photos below from our Painted Hills trip were taken with my iphone.

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Painted Hills Oregon

Painted Hills Oregon

Painted Hills Oregon

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Photography Topics | Why Engagement Sessions Are AWESOME!

diamond engagement ring in spring cherry blossoms salem oregon photography

As the title might [maybe] suggest, this post is all about why engagement sessions are awesome.

Ah, romance. It’s in the air and the butterflies just won’t leave your tummy when you’re in that post-proposal high. You’re excited each time you get to tell someone new and you’ve started the next 6-18 months of wedding planning. You know that the anticipation of a lifetime together will reach its peak in the weeks that lead up to your wedding day, which might beg the question: Is an engagement session really necessary? It’s just one more thing to plan, after all, and the wedding photography will capture the true beginning of your lives together, right?

From a legal sense, yes, your lives begin together when you say, “I do.” but it’s my guess that your lives had already been inseparable. There’s a special moment in all life-long partnerships when you just know. You KNOW that this is the person you’re going to spend your life with, the person you want to grow old with. For some it’s the first time you exchange “I love you.”, for others it’s a fight where you realize what you don’t want to lose, or perhaps it’s taking that leap of faith to ask for that commitment with a ring [or a ring tattoo].

first date recreation at bar 101 in corvallis oregon engaged couple cuddling on a waterfront benchI believe that having an engagement session is important for several reasons. First, it’s a time-stamp. Especially if you’re going to have a longer [18-24 months] engagement it is important to mark the occasion and capture who you are together in THAT moment. Did you get engaged over the winter holidays, but are planning a summer destination wedding? I bet you’ll look pretty different bundled up in the snow compared to walking on a sandy beach. An engagement session adds another dimension to your visual story. Most of us have lots of selfies and quick iphone pics with our main squeeze, while fewer have “portraits”. I can say from personal experience, on both sides of the camera, that having someone else focused on YOU – on creating special memories for YOU – can give you something truly wonderful to look back on… as well as look forward to at your wedding.

fall colors engagement session in corvallis oregon


Engagement sessions also give both of you a chance to get comfortable in front of the camera with your photographer, and figure out how you work best together BEFORE the main event. I cannot stress this aspect enough. Wedding days can be ummm… stressful. If you’ve planned it right and delegated to people you can trust, then hopefully it won’t be, but it’s a big day in your lives so expect a little anxiety. Wondering if your photographer will do an amazing job should be the last worry on your mind. Spending some time with them for an engagement session will help give you, and your family, that confidence to let them do what they do best. It’s also an opportunity for your photographer to learn about how you interact together and your little quirks. Are you awkward cuddlers? Maybe you blink…a lot? Do you need extra time to warm up? Are you better at candid or posed portraits? Are you a total rock star at following directions? These are all thing that will come out in your engagement session and give your photographer more information to work with when planning how they want to tackle your day.

Lastly engagement sessions give you the opportunity to showcase your personality as a couple, while creating some fun, memorable imagery for wall portraits, your wedding guestbook, save the date cards, holiday cards, etc. I like to think of engagement sessions as a date for three. We should do all the fun things that you like to do together! Ride bikes, go for coffee, walk the waterfront, recreate your first date, …there are so many ways to make your session into a romantic full day date [that just happens to have a photographer following you].

cute couple trying to stay warm in woven blanket under yellow aspen trees

romantic black and white double exposure of newly wed couple

So let’s get planning! I can tell you’re just as excited about engagement sessions as I am thanks to this pretty awesome blog post. Feel free to look through my Dream Engagements + Weddings to see more couples in love. Contact me today for details + booking information.

…oh and don’t forget to say hello at Marry Me! Jan 24th + 25th and Luxe Bridal Event Feb 22nd 🙂

How to re-wear a bridesmaid’s dress


mixed wedding party wears purple mismatched dresses for summer chicago wedding

If you’ve ever been a bridemaid or MOH then you know what this title is all about…

Choosing a dress for your bridesmaid’s can be very tricky – what color? style? length? material? What if they don’t fit? What if a bridesmaid refuses to wear it? Who pays for the dresses? What if all the bridesmaids can’t afford the dress I want them to wear? What about shoes? The list goes on and on forever and ever…

One of the main complaints I hear from bridesmaids is that they’re expensive for a dress they’re likely to never wear again. No matter how stunning they are on the wedding day, for some reason they just look “too much like a bridesmaid’s dress to wear again”. …until now.

I’m here with three solutions to the bridesmaid’s dress dilemma!
1. Rent. The guys get to rent their suits/tuxes …why can’t the ladies rent their bridesmaid’s dresses? Over the last five-ish years a number of dress rental companies have popped up to meet this need and the ladies couldn’t be happier! My personal favorite is Little Borrowed Dress. They offer 6 styles in a wide assortment of colors both a party and floor length. All their dresses are made from chiffon AND they’ll even send a back-up size for free! Worried the color on your monitor isn’t the same as the color of the dress? Just ask for a few swatches to ease you mind. With Little Borrowed Dress it’s easy to let your bridesmaids pick what they’re most comfortable wearing. The best part? You don’t have to spend $200+ on a dress… $50-$75 will get you one of their dresses shipped with plenty of time before the big day!

Other companies that offer a similar product (though I haven’t worked with them directly) are: Rent the Dress, Vow To Be Chic, and Rent the Runway.bridesmaids in little borrowed dresses in summery poppy color


2. Skirt + Blouse combo. You heard me right, that bridesmaid’s dress doesn’t have to be a dress. Going with a skirt + blouse combo is almost guaranteed to re-worn as separate pieces give near endless possibilities for future events. This choice could also allow more individual expression among your bridesmaids AND help everyone feel their best if your ladies are a variety of sizes and shapes. These bridesmaids look so lovely and festive on the Oregon Coast for an overcast summer wedding. Their skirt + blouse outfits went with the homemade, DIY, intimate backyard event; while still feeling dressy and feminine. Since most of the wedding party (and guests) traveled for this special day, having clothes that were easy to iron was a huge advantage. Plus… skirts with pockets are super cool! skirt and blouse bridesmaids look so cute and festive on the oregon coast

3. Pick a simple dress in a timeless color. It can be really easy to get swept up in all the latest wedding trends and not realize that, like all trends, they’re temporary. Choosing a simple dress in a neutral/timeless color (black, grey, navy, or blush) will allow your bridesmaids to make simple additions to her dress for future events. Extra Petite recently created a video that was featured on Style Me Pretty that really showed how easy it could be to dress up or down such a dress. PS: I’ve decided that purple is also a neutral. Seriously, it goes with every skin tone, comes in a variety of shades from cool to warm, is appropriate for any season, looks great with other colors, is gender neutral, and looks great for both formal and informal events. Perfection! 

Restyling a bridesmaid dress with Extra Petite on Style Me Pretty | Long Haul Films Video Production from Long Haul Films on Vimeo.

Taylor + Carmine | Earth-Based Ashland Wedding

Introducing my current nominee for most unique wedding of 2014!

Every wedding is special in its own way. Sometimes it’s the wedding dress handed down by the bride’s mother; or the hand picked flowers that bring bursts of color to each space; or the way everyone contributes to a loving wedding weekend; or the way the couple engages their guests at the end of their ceremony; or the location filled with friends and family; or the cookies made in paisley, grateful dead lightening bolts, and acorn shapes; or a very personal ceremony by Lizard the Wizard. Taylor + Carmine had all these things and more!

I had the pleasure of meeting with Taylor + Carmine a few months before their wedding while they were in Eugene suit shopping for Carmine and dress shopping for their 1 year old daughter, Phlox. This was a new experience for me – since the little family lives in Cave Junction I didn’t have a lot of access to them for in meetings and pre-wedding photos, but also Taylor’s Mom, Cindy, was a big part of the wedding planning and she lives in ARKANSAS! Initially I was concerned that the distance would create communication problems with the planners, but everyone was so dedicated to this wedding going smoothly that it was simply the most relaxed (in a very good way) wedding weekend ever. I left for Southern Oregon on Friday morning, picking up my second shooter Stevi Sayler in Eugene, with time for a quaint lunch in Ashland before heading up into the timber and arriving at Green Springs Inn early in the afternoon. Taylor + Carmine had already picked the general location for their first look so we went with them to scout the exact location at Tub Springs State Park. After a rehearsal that I’m soooooooo glad I didn’t miss – quick tangent: I always do my best to be at the rehearsal for any wedding that I photograph. Every once in awhile I have a couple that says they’re not having a rehearsal and I can’t begin to understand why. After all the planning, preparing, and resources they’ve put into this day they don’t want to practice the actual ceremony part. Noooooooooooooooooooo!!! A rehearsal answers so many questions for the officiant, couple, wedding party, family, and gives your photographer and/or videographer an opportunity to spot visual problems. It doesn’t mean that you have to have a fancy rehearsal dinner if that’s the real concern, but please for the sanity of everyone, including yourselves, please have a rehearsal and run it all the way through at least twice. End tangent. – I was so glad that T+C had a rehearsal and that we were there for it because this was quite different from any of the other weddings I had photographed before. Both Taylor + Carmine would weave all the way through the three tiered amphitheater style seating instead of walking straight to the front, and their ceremony involved a lot of movement as they walked to the four corners of a large alter. The rest of Friday was open so we scouted a couple more locations and then enjoyed the rest of the evening at the lodge.

Saturday was busy with executing all the planning and preparations. Streamers and tablecloths, bells and gems, flowers and dresses, music and laughter… and some crying. Taylor got ready in a big cabin set back away from the rest of the group. A couple besties, her sister-in-law, cousin, and Mom joined her on the deck for hair, make up, and champagne. As I mentioned earlier one of the things that made this wedding so special was that Taylor got to wear her mother’s dress. Altered by Cindy to fit Taylor’s frame and style, it was so wonderful to witness and document her stepping into the dress. I took Taylor to meet up with Stevi and Carmine at the first look location and couldn’t have been happier with the magic and emotion that unfolded. I love it when couples, especially Grooms, are expressive during this time and completely forget that the photographer(s) are even there! Soon it was time for the ceremony. Carmine came in first with little Phlox in his arms, Taylor was escorted by her parents while her brother played the guitar and sang “Here Comes the Sun” …I almost died. You know it’s a good wedding when you can get the photographer to tear up within 5 minutes. “Oh my god, she’s the SUN! …she’s just so beautiful and happy, and Carmine is so happy to see her! Ok Amanda, focus focus focus!”

At the end of their ceremony Taylor + Carmine literally danced their way back through all their friends and family while everyone rang bells and cheered for them! Yay!!!

The reception was filled with food, cookies, cake, music, dancing, and heart felt toasts; surrounded by their friends and family it couldn’t have been a more perfect day. Congratulations to Taylor + Carmine Sciulli!!!!!

wedding venue details at green springs inn in ashland oregonassortment of bells for guests to ring when newly weds kiss for the first timehand picked wild flower bouquets for wedding ceremony and receptioncustom wedding rings on amethyst, acorns, and poppy flowersvintage wedding dress hanging in a tree in southern oregondetails of her mother's vintage wedding dress bridal earrings, shoes, yellow shall and hair piecebride getting ready for her wedding with help from her mother and sister in law at green springs inn cabinsoft custom bridal detailsdetails of groom's outfit for his wedding day including paisley tie, brown vest and hat, and leather shoesashland groom getting dressed for his weddinggroom getting ready for his wedding with help from the bride's fathergroom waiting to see bride at tub springs forest in southern oregongroom crying as he sees his bride for the first time on their wedding daybride and groom embracing during their wedding portraits in southern oregonloving couple standing in the trees together in their wedding clothescouple drinking from natural spring well near their wedding venuegroom walking down the aisle with daughter and niece on his wedding daybride's parents walking her down the aisle on her wedding daybride's parents welcome groom into their family at beginning of wedding ceremony in southern oregonbeautiful couple being blessed and washing their rings during their earth based wedding ceremonycouple holding unity candle with details of custom wedding rings and hand-fasting ribbonintimate earth based wedding ceremony at green springs inn in ashland oregonbride and groom first kiss at green springs inn ashland oregonwild flower center piece bouquets for oregon wedding receptioncake and dessert table display with rustic fabric banner, antique telephone, handmade cookies, and colorful wedding cakewedding spoons with i do, me too, and me three for bridal familynewly weds with their one year old daughter surrounded by treesbride and groom playing with their one year old daughter during portraitsbride and groom cutting and messily eating colorful wedding cakefather daughter dance with lots of twirling at wedding receptionbride and groom first dance at southen oregon wedding receptionguests and newly weds dancing to live music at southern oregon wedding reception

– Vendor Love –
Venue + Catering // Green Springs Inn
Cake // Sugar Rush
Rings // Yaneese Jewelry
Band // Patchy Sanders
Photography // Amanda Photographic
Carmine’s Suit // Nimbus
Officiant // Lizard the Wizard
Taylor’s Dress // Her Mother’s Dress (1977)
Floral // Hand picked by bride + Ashland Farmer’s Market
Decor // Made by friends + family

Inspired to start planning your perfect celebration? Please contact me for full details + booking 🙂

Love, Humor, and Strength | Two Sisters Surviving Breast Cancer

As some of your know from my social media feeds this session was very challenging… and a blessing.

Suzie + Annie are sisters. They are also breast cancer survivors.
Each of them has had one breast removed, and Annie is having the second removed sometime this month. This session was requested by Suzie, who wanted some nice photos taken with her sister to help document their stories. Throughout our session there was LOTS of laughing, these women were loaded with quick and witty comebacks, and there were some tears. Their strength and love for each other is clear in each portrait – such is the bond of sisters.

I’m going to stop writing now, before I start to cry again. Please send all your positive thoughts to both Suzie + Annie as they continue to fight. The last thing I have to say is, “EFF CANCER!”

I am very excited to my contact with Project H.E.R. at The Corvallis Clinic to help express the strength of women like Suzie and Annie.

A 3,700 mile motorcycle tour from Oregon to the Southwest and back…

…I still can’t feel my butt.

The only signs we missed were Oregon (it’s on a bridge with no shoulder) and Arizona (it was dark and again no shoulder).

This trip was months in the making, more or less went according to plan, was like nothing I’ve (or any of us had) ever done before, was EPIC – in the most literal use of the word, brought me closer to my special man, and created memories that will last a lifetime. John and I spent 12 days traveling by motorcycle (Triumph 1200 Tiger Explorer) with our dear friend Chris tailing us in his uber efficient car (Honda Civic) from Corvallis, OR on back highways through the Southwest and back covering 3,700 miles.

It went a little something like this: Corvallis, OR > Hart Mountain, OR | Hart Mountain, OR > Wells, NV | Wells, NV > Phoenix, AZ (this was a 21 hour day and I wouldn’t recommend ever EVER doing it… we made a judgement call and it worked out ok, but it was risky) | Stayed in Phoenix sleeping and visiting with friends for a couple days | Phoenix, AZ > Gila Mountain NF, NM | Gila Mountains NF, NM > Santa Fe, NM | Stayed in Santa Fe for a full day eating, sleeping, and hiking | Santa Fe, NM > Moab, UT | Moab, UT > Honeyville, UT | Honeyville, UT > Wallowa-Whitman NF, OR | Wallowa-Whitman NF, OR > Home.

The photos below are an assortment between my Sony Alpha 77 and my iphone 5s.  Be sure to check out my instagram for more photos and upcoming adventures… Enjoy!

Things that we saw that were not photographed – probably because we were moving and it happened for a split second:
(Day 1) Tons of people that wondered up to John to talk about motorcycles. A giant black cow that was nearly ran into John and I on the bike (it was dark). (Day 2) More cows in the road, we very carefully went around them, though Chris was worried about a particularly LARGE bull that was eye-balling his red car. Lots of antelope, mull deer, jack rabbits, and mountains. A crap load of bikers in Winnemucca, NV for a Memorial Day Weekend thing… (Day 3) Spent most of the day on the “Loneliest Highway” which also turns out to be the “Motorcycliest”. Saw AMAZING weather systems and rode in between two storms through most of Neveda. At one point my helmet got hucked across the highway by the wind (ouch!), but my communication system took the beating and kept working (5 stars!), shortly after we also saw a styrofoam cup fly across the sky. (Day 4-5) Lots of street art in Phoenix. (Day 6) The reemergence of life once we entered New Mexico – butterflies, hummingbirds, prairie dogs, HUGE hawks, and more antelope. Naked hippies in the hot springs. (Day 7) Lots of tiny lizards, burned out sections of forest, cicadas, and a raven that piloted for us on a twisty back-highway for about 1/4 mile. WIND!!!!! Wind that wanted to throw us into the other lane from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. (Day 8 ) Some of the best food I’ve ever had in my WHOLE LIFE!!! Street art, lots of adobe houses (all of them), interesting roadways. Crazy weather systems as we rode out to Ghost Ranch (yea, I went to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ranch) and hiked Kitchen Mesa. Lots of lizards, birds, flowers, rocks, and everything you could want to see, smell, or touch. (Day 9) Some of the prettiest horses I’ve ever seen! Breathtaking views coming through upper New Mexico, SW Colorado, Rocky Mountains, Mesa Verde, the abrupt change in the quality of the roads as we crossed into Utah (ps Utah has crappy roads, so does Idaho), and Moab. I do feel guilty not getting more photos of the red cliffs as we made our way through SE Utah, but dammit we were trying to make it Moab in time to get a camping spot. Oh yea, and I saw a BEAR in Colorado! A BIG BROWN BEAR! (Day 10) Just REALLY BIG hills and cliffs that are right up against the highway – they make you feel really small. The frequency of “family fun centers” and theme parks from Moab to Salt Lake City is a bit unsettling. …then we camped at one. We thought it was a hot spring, and it was… that was also a family fun center with a water slide. (Day 11) Not much. It’s not that there isn’t stuff happening in the lower half of Idaho… it’s just that it’s pretty much all Ag land. Yep, lots of cows and horses, and stuff getting watered. That is until we got back into Oregon and got a view of the Wallowa Mountains. (Day 12) More Wallowa Mountains and LOTS of wind turbines coming through The Gorge. We also saw more deer, BIG HORNED SHEEP, wind surfers and wind + water related sports that I’m not sure what they’re called, The Columbia River at it’s finest, The Budweiser Clydesdales …for real! They were traveling on I-84, three trailers full, and I asked John if he thought the horses were really in there after we passed the one in back. When we passed the middle trailer I looked in an open window and saw a GIANT horse eye looking back at me! “They are, they are!” Then we were coming up to the first trailer and I told him to watch for one if he could (it’s hard to look around when you’re managing a two-up motorcycle in The Gorge) and then one of them poked its GIANT horse nose out of the window! HAHAHA!!! I don’t even like Budweiser, but that was AWESOME!

There are so many more stories. …like The Argentinian, or THE HEAT that nearly suffocated us as we tried to leave Phoenix, all the bones in the desert, the mining towns, THE MINES, the New Mexico and Colorado skyline, the price of ice in the desert, how it smells soooooooo good when it rains there, the bird and insect sounds, the GIANT cougar print that was bigger than my whole hand at our last camping spot that John didn’t tell me about til morning (good call), the guy bummin’ gas money in his brand new Mercedes, and ALL the little kids that wondered up to John to look at his motorcycle.

5 Helpful Wedding Planning Tips | A Photographer’s Perspecitve

As someone who attends A LOT of weddings I’m starting to feel like a bit of an authority on what is realistic to expect from your big day. There are lots of different styles and ways to celebrate your new commitment and life together, but those differences don’t stop certain inevitable truths from rearing their sometimes ugly heads. I’m actually not very good at writing intros, so I’m just going to get to my 5 helpful wedding planning tips… hopefully they’ll save you some headache and grief.

1. Have a honest conversation with your partner about what is most important to you for your upcoming wedding. This is really important to do early. It will determine a lot about where you focus your time, efforts, helpers, and money. Odds are that your partner thinks that their priorities are standard, obvious to you, or the same as yours …so talk about it early to avoid awkward moments later. Once you’ve established what’s most important to you as individuals you can start to work on what is most important to you as a couple and where you’re willing to compromise if you disagree. Maybe it’s really important to the groom that he not see the bride before the wedding (he’s just old fashioned that way), or perhaps it’s important that all the out-of-state family can come without worrying about paying for hotel rooms. After you’ve really decided what’s important to you as a couple, try to stick to 5 really important things – more than that is too overwhelming, you’ll have an easier time asking friends and family for help and…

two grooms who DIY planned their entire wedding on the oregon coast

2. Have clear boundaries with friends and (especially) family on wedding planning decisions. There’s nothing worse for a couple than watching, helplessly, as someone else takes over planning their wedding in a way that doesn’t meet their priorities, values, or budget. Family members often think that they have an equal say in decision making, especially if they’re contributing financially, but when ideas start to conflict it’s ultimately up to the couple to decide what to do. This can put the couple in a very bad place during an already stressful time, particularly if the conflicts are coming from both sides of the families. It is also important to be prepared to decline help or financial assistance if you suspect it will cause trouble for you down the road. Need more help with this one? Try some of the advice on Off-Beat Bride.

head table settings with drinks, name tags, and center pieces with apple trees at lawn reception

3. Choose your wedding party carefully. This one is very difficult, but the guys and gals you choose for your wedding party can make or break your wedding day experience. I actually think this is one of the more important decisions you’ll make. Just because you’ve been BFFs since you were 6 doesn’t mean that someone is available or capable of being a good Maid of Honor (MOH)/Bridesmaid or Best Man/Groomsman. Your MOH and Best Man have actual responsibilities for your pre-wedding and wedding day. Your MOH is responsible for holding your partner’s ring, hosting (that includes paying for stuff) your bridal shower/bachelorette party, giving a heart felt toast during your reception, and basically being your right-hand lady that WHOLE DAY. The Best Man is responsible for the same respective duties in addition to having a pocket full of checks to pay your vendors. You entire wedding party is responsible for purchasing their clothes (rentals?), shoes, hair, and make-up; helping you put together invitations/party favors/programs, they need to be able to stand during your service without suffering from Grumpy Resting Face, they need to be first on and last off the dance floor, no drama/too much drinking/inappropriate behavior (keep it Grandma friendly), and most importantly they need to be able to afford to do all these things.  A not-so-awesome wedding party will sew chaos… While a good wedding party will help you create some of the strongest bonds and best memories from your wedding day.


happy wedding party at marylhurst university during formal portraits in february

4. Hire Professionals & Do Your Research. Call me crazy, but there are people out there who PROFESSIONALLY do all the things you need done for your wedding day. Planning/Coordination, Catering, Bartending, Photographer (wink), Videographer, Florists, DJ/MC, Graphic Designers/Paper Goods, Seamstresses/Tailors, Hair & Make-up Artists, Bakery/Cake, Officiant… really the list goes on and on. A professional knows what they’re doing and doesn’t need to you to do their job for them – that didn’t sound right. …What I meant to say is that a pro doesn’t need a babysitter. You can trust them to do a GREAT job at what you hired them for, act professionally, and follow through with you. We all understand that budgets are budgets and that there isn’t always the funds to hire everyone you’d like to, this is where tip #1 comes in. If it’s important to you that your day goes smoothly and that people aren’t coming up to you with questions all day then it would be a very good idea to hire a planner/coordinator. Most of them offer day-of service if you can only afford for them to be there on your actual wedding day and trust me they are totally worth it! There are lots of ways to cut costs when planning your wedding, but please remember that there are always consequences. Sometimes you’re fine with the consequences, others not so much. Lastly, just because you could do something on your own doesn’t mean it’s worth the time, hassle, and money that it will cost you.

custom sparkly cupcakes with small round wedding cakes at small english garden style wedding

5. Plan a “Slow Wedding”. This is more of a two-parter. The number one complaint that I hear from newly weds is that the day went by so quickly that they didn’t get a chance to take it all in. The concept of a “Slow Wedding” is based on the Slow Food movement. The Slow Food movement brought focus to the means in which we produce food, it’s quality, textures, and tastes. It focuses on food as pleasure, food as a central part of our lives, food as quality not as quantity. Similarly a Slow Wedding focuses on a few key elements that are, once again, most important to you. Plan for and manage those elements well and REALLY enjoy your day. Two specific things that I feel help this taking care of your group photography before your service and have some private time for just yourselves immediately after your service. Getting the bulk of your formal portraits handled before your service is nice because everyone is fresh, excited, cooperative, and there are fewer people around to distract from the task at hand. Having some private time immediately after your service gives YOU, the couple, time to just be together. It’s also a good time to eat, use the bathroom, and breathe. I also believe that Unplugged Weddings are in the same spirit as Slow Weddings. Encouraging your guests to put away their phones and cameras to be with you, especially during your service, completely changes the feel of your day. It’s more personal, more present, and more polite.

beautiful bride and groom after their slow wedding ceremony had time for portraits on the beach

Ready to hire a professional photographer for your own amazing wedding? Contact me for full details + booking today!

1000 Facebook Fans Giveaway!!!

Hooray!!!!! I reached 1000 fans on my Amanda Photographic facebook page!

Thank you for all the love 🙂 And to show you how appreciative I am, I will be hosting a contest for the rest of April to giveaway a stylized portrait session. What’s a stylized session you ask? It simply means that we will work to boost the creativity and quality of your session with any of the following: props, travel, activities, salon time, and bringing in other creatives to design your session. This type of session is great fun for everyone and I hope that you’re as excited as I am!

ENTER TO WIN!!! >>> All 4 are required for entry.
1. Like my Amanda Photographic facebook page.
2. Comment on contest post with a funny joke.
3. Share image from contest post to tell others about the contest. (Must use ‘Share” button on fb)
4. Tell me you did the above steps by commenting on THIS blog post, be sure to include your email address.

BONUS ENTRIES >>> One additional entry per day, per step when available.
1. Follow me on Instagram.
2. Share the contest image on your own Instagram. Tag @amandaphotographic and #amandaphotographiccontest
3. Tweet about it. Tag @amandafotogphic and #amandaphotographiccontest
4. Share my Amanda Photographic facebook page on your profile.

Contest ends 11:59pm on Wednesday April 30th. Winner will be announced and contacted by email on Friday May 2nd!




  1. Promotion Description: 1000 Fans Stylized Portrait Session Giveaway begins on 04/08/14  and ends on 04/30/14 at 11:59 PM (Pacific Time (US & Canada)) (the “Promotion Period”). By participating in the Giveaway, each entrant unconditionally accepts and agrees to comply with and abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of Amanda Photographic (“Sponsor”), which shall be final and binding in all respects. Sponsor is responsible for the collection, submission or processing of Entries and the overall administration of the giveaway. Entrants should look solely to Sponsor with any questions, comments or problems related to the Giveaway.
  2. Eligibility: Open to legal residents of USA & Canada, who are 18 or older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  3. Winner Selection: The winner of the Giveaway will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible Entries received throughout the Promotion Period. The random drawing will be conducted by Sponsor, whose decisions are final. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible Entries received. Winner will be notified by email at the email address provided in the Entry Information on 05/02/14. Potential winner must accept a prize by email as directed by Sponsor within 48 hours of notification. Any winner notification not responded to or returned as undelivered may result in prize forfeiture. The potential prize winner may be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and release of liability, and a Publicity Release (collectively “the Prize Claim Documents”). No substitution or transfer of a prize is permitted except by Sponsor.
  4. Session Location: Stylized Portrait Session will be held within 90 miles of Corvallis, Oregon. Winner may purchase additional mileage to have session in a location of their choosing.
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