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documentary photography

ALE + DYLAN FAMILY AT HOME | Salt Lake City, Ut

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ALE + DYLAN FAMILY AT HOME | Salt Lake City, Ut

BARE BUMS AND BAND PRACTICE

I have an obsession with people (surprise surprise).  My intense interest in the way in which we relate to each other has only increased over the years, seeping into every aspect of my life. 

Seven hours at the Apple Store this past weekend made that very apparent to me when, waiting patiently for my files to back up, I found myself observing the throngs and (creepily) documenting the love connections I spotted on my insta stories.

You know the saying ‘what you focus on grows’?  Well, my chosen career path seems to be perfectly suited for my ‘love radar’, and it has indeed grown, to the point where a hug between strangers can render me misty eyed.

About a year ago I stumbled across a video on Vogue’s YouTube channel called ’73 Questions’ in which the videographer rapid fires 73 questions to a celebrity.  In Emma Stone’s segment he asks ‘What can’t you live without?’, to which she replies, ‘Love. In whatever form it takes.’ 

I never watched another from the series but that line stuck to the inter-webbings of my brain since first hearing it, and I’m happy to have a reason to share it now.

Back in March I visited my cousin and his family in San Diego and proceeded to follow them around for a day with camera in hand to whip out whenever I saw an interaction or love connection worth documenting.

The final story tugged at a whole new set of heartstrings, and I decided right then that I needed to add 100% documentarian style family sessions to my arsenal of offerings. 

Because when it comes down to it, those little tiny moments shared between mom and daughter, brother and sister, and mom and dad, during the seemingly long days that pass us by in the blink of an eye, are the proof that our lives are actually full of love.

And that’s the thing you know?  Love.  Overflowing, never-ending, family love, in all of it’s expressions.

Below is the gorgeous Ale, Dylan, and family, hanging at home while I did my best to capture the love I witnessed.  While I’m still new to this style and have room to improve, I’m sooooo happy with how they turned out, and can’t wait to meet my next documentary family subjects.  Xo

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IRVIN FAMILY AT HOME | San Diego, Ca

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IRVIN FAMILY AT HOME | San Diego, Ca

WE DON'T WANT TO RAISE A**HOLES

I've always joked that if I ever had kids I'd be a tyrant of a mother.  I was raised on a strict diet of polite-ness, respectful-ness, and obedience, and tend to have the same rigid expectations for the kids around me in my life.  

About a month ago I headed to San Diego and bunked with my cousin Blake and his wife Lou who'd recently welcomed a baby girl into the world, growing their family to a party of four.  It had been over three years since I'd seen them last so I spent the next three days enjoying their company and getting to know them in their life right now.    

Since I'd been itching to shoot a family in true photojournalistic mode, I took full advantage of my 'house-guest' status and spent my first day there immersed in documenting the going-ons of a typical Friday.  By the end of the day, I was floored by the amount of patience, energy, and effort I witnessed in the form of parental guidance from Blake and Lou.

I once read an article on parenting that likened the first years of child rearing to building a house;  for the first four to five years you're in the trenches day in and day out, doing the dirty work and building a strong foundation, and while it doesn't look like much on the outside, it's the most important part of the structure that will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.

Preach.

I'm no parent myself but I know that in order for anything like manners or discipline to stick it takes consistent, non-exciting effort, from both sides, day in and day out.  During my stay at the Irvin household I intimately observed the steely, relentless dedication these two have made to parenting - and the direct effects that dedication has already wielded.  When I remarked on how amazed I was by the little man Mason was turning into, they simply stated 'Well, when we had kids we just decided together that we didn't want to raise an asshole.'

And that, I would say, they have already achieved.

Not only is Mason an enchantingly bright kid in his own right - possessing a presence way beyond his 4 years (you know the kind I'm talking about), but his speech was effortlessly infused with pleases and thank you's (and 'sirs' for such authoritative figures as the dinner waiter), and changing activities wasn't a life or death situation.

I thoroughly enjoyed 'seeing' this family through my lens, and hope these photos do their slice of life justice.  Xo

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What they had to say about their experience with a Day in the Life session:

Lou - "My biggest fear was that there wouldn’t be anything to shoot. To me, my day is so boring and so basic. I see these beauty or lifestyle bloggers with glamorous lives, and all I was thinking was “she is going to be so bored.” Turns out mommin' is actually kind of fun from an outside view. It gave me a bit of a different perspective of my day to day to be seen through these pictures.  These photos will always remind me of the beauty of the day to day. It also documented a part of time for our family when we were growing and adjusting to a family of four."

Blake - "There are so many things going on at the same time that sometimes even great memorable experiences get lost. With these photos, its like having a thumb tack where I can look back and remember the time and what was going on. Also having photos with our whole family is very rare because one of us is usually taking the photos."

Interested in a Day in the Life session?

Contact me here.

 

 

Otherwise...

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KNUDSON FAMILY REUNION | Heber, Ut

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KNUDSON FAMILY REUNION | Heber, Ut

THE MOST EPIC FAMILY CELEBRATION

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have a major soft spot for large, extended families.  My mother comes from a family of 8 so I grew up with holidays, birthdays and many a random days filled with cousins upon cousins, and aunts and uncles dancing, playing and laughing ourselves to tears.  Because a wicked sharp sense of humor is our dominant family trait, good times were/are always had. 

This past Labor Day, a client I had worked with several times previously (thanks Martha + Tyler!) reached out to me to see if I would be interested in taking on a gig documenting their annual family get together, affectionately dubbed, Legacy Days.  

Tyler went on to paint a picture of what 'Legacy Days' was, and even though it was out of my usual scope of work (remember how I like to break out of my boxes I put myself in) I was more than pumped to take on the challenge and bear witness to this family tradition.

Labor Day rolled around and I headed up to the family ranch in Heber, Ut.  Now, Heber is beautiful in its own right and reminds me a lot of the sleepy country town I grew up in (Morgan), but when I turned onto the Dickman family ranch and made my way down the willow-tree-lined-lane, I was greeted with acres upon acres of intricate landscaping,  3 lakes (that I could see), and more animal sculptures and real live animals than I could count.  I was floored.

This wasn't some slopped together backyard bbq either, this was a legitimate EVENT complete with commercial grade signs bearing the 'Legacy Days 2016' logo, a 'ho-down' on Day 1 with a professional dj/line dance announcer, and a full-on rodeo (and parade) documented by a videographer and drone specialist on Day 2.

I thoroughly enjoyed shooting in full 'fly-on-the-wall' documentary mode (and would love to do more of it), and kept wishing my family celebrated family time like this.

Grab a cup of tea, get cozy, and enjoy!  This ain't no quickie post.

 

DAY 1

  'Legacy' Celebration  |  Ho-Down 

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'LEGACY' CELEBRATION

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HO-DOWN

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DAY 2

Float Decorating   |   Parade   |   Rodeo

 

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PARADE

Blue team! (had to do at lease one color photo of the teams)

Blue team! (had to do at lease one color photo of the teams)

Red team!

Red team!

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RODEO

Yes, this is their own  private  rodeo arena.

Yes, this is their own private rodeo arena.

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grandstand-at-legacy-days-rodeo-arena-2016-heber-utah
candid-photo-of-woman-laughing-heber-utah

BUSTIN' MUTTON RIDES

Objective: stay on sheep the longest

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Little cousin pep talk. <3

Little cousin pep talk. <3

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candid-shot-of-mom-and-dad-comforting-daughter-park-city-utah
documentary-photograph-of-father-and-son-legacy-days-heber-utah
documentary-photograph-of-girl-in-grandstand-heber-utah

BLAZIN' SADDLES

Objective: fastest one around the barrels

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candid-photograph-of-woman-horseback-riding-at-legacy-ranch-heber-utah
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portrait-of-grandpa-officiating-barrel-racing-heber-utah
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MILK THE TEETS

Objective: collect most milk from goat

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racing-to-milk-the-goat-at-legacy-days-heber-ut
candid-shot-of-boy-celebrating-win-at-legacy-days-heber-ut

BANDANA ROUNDUP

Objective: collect all the bandanas off of sheep

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documentary-photography-at-family-gathering-labor-day-2016-park-city-utah
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sheep-at-legacy-days-labor-day-family-gathering-park-city-ut
candid-documentary-photography-of-man-tackling-sheep-at-family-labor-day-celebration-park-city-ut
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bandana-roundup-at-legacy-days-rodeo-heber-ut

LUNCH BREAK

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red-team-legacy-days-rodeo-parade-heber-ut
storytelling-photograph-of-kids-playing-on-tire-swing-in-heber-ut
black-and-white-portrait-of-boy-on-tire-swing-in-heber-utah
man-and-boy-feeding-miniature-farm-animals-in-heber-utah
boy-feeding-sitting-pig-at-legacy-ranch-in-heber-utah
black-and-white-portrait-of-boy-riding-miniature-pony-at-legacy-ranch-heber-utah
black-and-white-documentary-photograph-of-little-girl-riding-miniature-horse-in-heber-utah

If you or anyone you know has an upcoming family gathering needing documentation, I'd love to be considered!  

Contact me here and let's chat. Xo

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LEE FAMILY | Antelope Island, Ut

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LEE FAMILY | Antelope Island, Ut

A BLACK AND WHITE LOVERS TAKE ON COLOR

As you may have noticed, I'm partial to black and white processing.  I think the pull comes from the complete raw-ness: no muss, no fuss, no distractions.  Just the light and the shadow, equally at play, allowing the emotion to take front and center.  And because emotion is why I do what I do, I find that the two go nicely hand in hand.

I have also noticed though, that as soon as I try to 'define' myself in some way, I immediately feel the need to break that definition, and this theme has been/is extremely prevalent in my life in more ways than one.  For example, I am a Cancer sun and a Sagittarius moon, meaning I am both extrovert and introvert - I crave the comforts of home yet crave being around others.  I experience moments where I yearn to be told what to do yet can't stand it when my choice is taken away.

Needless to say, finding balance seems to be the overall arcing lesson I'm set to learn in this life, and I'm happy to say that some of my seemingly extreme behaviors have mercifully begun to fall by the wayside.  

With that being said, when the opportunity comes along, I enjoy the challenge of 'conquering' something new, of breaking out of my self-imposed definition, of growing and evolving.  Though processing photos in color is not something I've completely foresworn, it's not often that I do almost an entire session that way.  Until now!

Jenn is such a kind soul, and her and her brood braved the bug swarms and sweat with me out at Antelope Island this past fall.  I believe I survived with only 6 bug bites, but so enjoyed stomping around this weird alien island in Salt Lakes' midst with them.  Xo

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Here's what Jenn had to say about her experience with me: 

"

I think my biggest fear with hiring you or really any photographer was, is the timing right?  Is this the best time of year, will they turn out, and also pricing was a factor. In the end it was all well worth the money, time, etc.......

My favorite part of working with you was simply your vision, I knew I wanted to hire you based on your photography style however, if you would have told me those pics were going to turn out how they did,  I would never have never thought they would, the island was beautiful but it was hot, dirty, and had lots of bugs but you would never know it from the pictures.

I think the price I paid was worth it in gold, those photo's are so beautifully and artistically done that although it was more then I planned on spending I will always be so happy I did, the packaging had me swooning, I absolutely think the complete package was breathtaking and I could not have hoped for anything more.

"

 

If I've learned anything, it's that life is always now, contact me here, and let's chat about your session!

 

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ORVIS THE PUP | Salt Lake City, Ut

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ORVIS THE PUP | Salt Lake City, Ut

I got my first dog when I was 4 years old.  My parents had just cemented our roots and built their dream home on a 3 acre stretch of land in Morgan, and were ready to add a furry member to the family.   

I have vivid memories of going to pick our puppy; how I searched all of their sweet little faces looking for the one that was going to join our family.  I remember spotting this tiny little nugget tucked away in the corner, quiet, and not begging for attention like the other pups.  She was mostly black with a strip of brown around her neck, and I knew she was the one.  She had stolen my heart.

I named her Katie (which I'm told was my favorite name at the time) and looking back it cracks me up that I gave her a human name.  It caused a lot of confusion when my actual friends named Katie came over to play - I remember one time the dog trying to get on the table that my friend happened to be sitting on and my dad yelling 'Katie get down!!!'.   Needless to say my friend was traumatized but we all laughed about it later.

Katie was a part of our lives for the next 11 years.  She grew into the most beautiful German Shepherd you ever did see with honey golden eyes and a tongue that just wanted to lick you to death.  She was incredibly smart, protective, and always wanted to be where the action was.  My dad used to joke that she thought she was a human because when we took her to puppy school, she would hide under the chairs and try to be by the people instead of going out to play with the other dogs.

As she got older she went blind, and slowly started to lose mobility in her hips due to a genetic disease, common to German Shepherds, called hip dysplasia.  It was heartbreaking, and when she could no longer walk, we knew it was time to put her down.  That day will forever be seared in my memory; walking to the back of our field with my family where our neighbor had dug us a hole with his tractor, choking out our goodbyes, watching silent tears fall down my dad's face, and burying her in the ground.  

I was 15 at the time and it was my first experience witnessing a complete life cycle of a living being.  Looking back, I went through all the stages of grief; heartbreak, anger, confusion.  And I often wondered to myself what the point of having a dog was in the first place if it was only going to die.  I couldn't understand why you'd willingly set yourself up for pain like that.

As with all things and the help of time, I eventually got to a place of understanding, and realized that the whole 'point' was in the experience.  In the pure joy of having a furry warm being to play with, to cuddle, and to love.

When a client of mine redeemed her gift card that her husband had given her for Mother's Day (the gift of photos scores major brownie points gents, just saying) she wanted to do a shoot with her kids and her pup Orvis who had recently had surgery and wasn't expected to live much longer.

The shoot was a dream and I was so glad to have met Orvis.  One week later, I learned that Orvis had passed away.

When I went back to her house for the purchasing session two weeks later and played a slideshow for her of our session with Orvis, there wasn't a dry eye in sight.  I couldn't help but think of the timing of it all and how happy I was that I could preserve these memories for her and her kids.

Wherever you are you were very much loved Orvis (and Katie)!  And for those of you with pets, I urge you to go give them a big squeeze right now. XO 

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If you're looking for meaningful and authentic photos of this season of your life, go ahead and contact me here and we'll chat about it!

Alternatively, drop your email below to get these blog posts right to your inbox along with exclusive updates and specials.  No spam.  Cross my heart. :)

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