2016: The Best Of

After seeing many of my peers post their favorite work from 2016, I decided to jump on the train. This year has included international photography trips, partnerships with local businesses, the beginning of a wedding photography career and so so much adventure. I tried to choose my favorites from each session, but found that my favorite ones were often unexpected and curious.

I am so in love with styles that are moody and desaturated, and I always strive to achieve that look. After looking back over my year, however, I think it's pretty obvious that I have an unending love affair with color. No matter how hip I'd like to be, I don't think I can ever let that go. So here's my 53 favorite shots: I have loved each and every session this past year and am so excited for what's in store for 2017. Thank you to everyone who I've worked with for making all this possible.

Happy New Year!!

You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing.
— Ernest Hemingway

Meera & Josh

Meera and Josh are two of the funniest, most genuine people I know. When they invited me to New York to capture their engagement session, I was honored and so nervous! There's something about traveling to New York City that is so thrilling. They were incredible hosts, and our day-long shoot was perfect. We spent hours laughing and exploring, and I got the honor of witnessing their chemistry, their joy and their love. To be able to give these wonderful humans lifelong memories was such an honor. I can't even describe my respect for these people. They belong together, and have such an amazing life ahead of them. The only thing better than shooting this engagement session, is getting to shoot their WEDDING. August 19th couldn't come soon enough. 

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Mr. & Mrs. Vance

The Vance's were my final and most elated couple. 

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Their Denver wedding was full of perfect details (I can't even with the ferns. stop. I love ferns.) and wonderfully joyous people. I laughed at just about every moment of the day, and fell in love with everyone I met. I still can't believe how lucky I am to have clients like these.

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Every bridesmaid had their own handmade hanger, and equally adorable fern bouquets. Every single one of these women were kind, hilarious and gorgeous.

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I'm pretty happy to have met them.

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My second had the pleasure of shooting these hilarious gentlemen, and editing their photos brought laughter tears to my face. Many, many laughter tears. I didn't believe there were people with goofier senses of humor than myself.

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Their ceremony was incredible. The ceilings were draped with ribbons of light and a brilliant chandelier centerpiece.

There were, appropriately, a massive amount of people there to witness their marriage.  

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They did it!!!

 
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We took a lot of pictures, and at this point, any sane human would be tired. But there Steph and Daniel were - happy, beautiful and more photogenic than I could ever hope to be.

 
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Also, can we talk about Steph's dress? It was perfect. As the most dainty, beautiful human I've ever seen, she gracefully rocked soft tulle and intricate straps. I could barely take my eyes off her, and we made her twirl around... a lot. 

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That's fine. I didn't want to be the most adorable couple on earth anyways.

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Did I mention her ring was a size 3? She's seriously adorable. and Seriously perfect.

 

Their reception was beautiful, with red velvet donuts and candid moments happening in every corner. 

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I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my 2016 wedding season, and I can only hope 2017 will compare to the love, joy and hilarity I shared with these two.

 

Steph and Daniel, thank you. 

Oregon with a Couple of Babes

Let me tell you about our trip to Oregon.

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We had originally planned to go down the California Coast; but spent 10 minutes in Cannon Beach and decided to stay.

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With the help of my favorite little explore, Harper Ellison;

We passed more lush greenery than we ever planned to.

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We adopted a slug family;

 

"Can I get a picture of you?"

"Sure, yeah, After I get one of you."

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and ran barefoot through freezing waters; 

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We danced with our reflections;

And chased fog down the coast. 

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We snapped candid photos of one another;

and explored a literal rainforest.

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Oregon, you are freaking beautiful.

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Photos of Redden by Brittany Slaughter of Alchemy Creative

Mr. & Mrs. Burak

July 2nd, 2016.

Meet the first couple who supported us on our Iceland journey. Back in December, in an effort to fundraise for our trip, 5 couples signed on to fund our trip to Iceland, in exchange for discounted pricing. I couldn't be more thankful for the wonderful people that Iceland has brought into my life, especially these two. 

Tiffany and Gabe have been nothing short of wonderful and generous.

As if their contribution wasn't enough, they gave Justyna Butler and I the honor of photographing their outrageously joyful and beautiful wedding. 

 

 

All the ladies got ready at the Kenney family home, in a gorgeous white vanity with flower girls always running around. The house was alive, the air so filled with excitement and love. 

Tiffany could not have been more beautiful, all with the help of her hilarious, loving bridesmaids. 

 

From there we went to their family church, where we met up with the groomsmen and scrambled around as the ceremony approached.

Studly.

I so admire Tiffany and her father's relationship; it reminds me a lot of my own. Instead of the usual first look with your husband; we decided to save that for the isle and opted for a daddy-daughter reveal instead. 

It was, of course, adorable.

 

The ceremony was incredibly touching and beautiful;

 

Take my hand; Take my whole life too.

the most precious thing, though, was that these two shared not only their first kiss as newlyweds during their ceremony, but their first kiss ever.

The amount of passion these two had for one another was one of the sweetest and most romantic things I have ever witnessed. 

 
 

For the reception, together everyone turned a middle school auditorium into the biggest dance party I have ever seen. (It was even better that they catered chipotle.. I mean come on)

Something Tiffany forgot to mention, was that both sides of the family were basically professional swing dancers. 

This reception was possibly the best dance party I have ever attended (and I attend a lot of dance parties) 

 

You're one of a kind, Gabe and Tiffany. 

here's to you!

 

Grand Tetons National Park

Let me tell you about the most generous woman I know. 

She's the type of person who invites you on spontaneous road trips across country.

She's the one who doesn't ask for anything in return; even after she's watched you put ungodly amounts of mayonnaise on just about everything.

She's the most life-giving mother I know, with an endless supply of love and adventures for her daughter.

She gives kisses.

and helps 3 year olds think they've pitched a tent.

She's the type of woman to share resources, wisdom, and experiences;

The type of woman that would give you the shirt off her back for the perfect selfie.

This past May, I had the honor of accompanying the best mother-daughter duo on a crazy road trip to the west coast.

We went camping, cooked spaghettios over an open fire, and fought off bears with our bare hands. 

Just kidding that didn't happen.

We did, however, get the chance to shoot the night sky.

This is Brittany Slaughter. 

She's my favorite person, the Maya Rudolph to my Kristen Wiig, the best adventure buddy and my dearest friend. Here's to you!

Day 4: A Whole 'Lotta Horses, A Whole 'Lotta Kisses.

For our fourth day we went with a  'let's do something fundamentally local' approach. We asked our host, Katrin, for suggestions and she insisted we drive through Snaefellsness Peninsula. 

Located in the Northwest, Snaefellsness is an easy day journey that consisted mostly of random stops here and there to enjoy what we were passing through. We pulled over for snowy mountains, fashion shoots, distant craters and sweet little draw bridges.

 

My favorite stop though, is by far our little detour through an Icelandic horse pasture. Surrounded by what we figured was an electric fence, were about 50 sweet, rosy Icelandic ponies. We parked the car and tried to will the lil' furballs over to us, but no dice. So we hopped, into poop, over a very underwhelming fence and waddled through foot-thick manure to get a picture with just one. Only one. 

The thing about Icelandic ponies, is that they are very friendly. They also don't have many friends since they're basically chilling in the middle of nowhere. So when I composed the shot, handed my camera over to Kyle and said 'go' it shouldn't have been surprising that not one, but 25 came over to get in on the picture. It was so freaking adorable. and slightly terrifying.

They are so curious that they quickly encircle you, nibbling at your coat and giving sweet little kisses. So we went with it. We took turns jumping in the horse circle and gave more kisses than we care to admit while standing in one foot of literal shit. Totally, totally worth it. 

We drove through white-out roads, down the entire peninsula to Kirkjufell Mountain. I don't know if you've seen the Secret Life of Walter Mitty (do it!!) but this is one of the few places he goes during his excursion to Iceland. It was really windy, and I mean really windy. Everyone decided to stay in the car at certain points, but Kyle and I were always down for a little windburn. 

At one point, we decided to pull over for this awesome view of the mountain. I wanted to get closer, so I went sprinting down the bank (that I thought was short) and ran with the wind to the shoreline. The winds were going at about 60mph, if you can imagine that. So naturally I stumbled and got there pretty quick, with the help of my coat/make-shift wings.

Kyle ran after me after getting some shots of his own, and while the trip down to the shore was delightful (I laughed the whole time) getting back up there was a complete embodiment of the words 'uphill battle.' I'm pretty sure my neck hurt for the next month after running against that much wind. It was not a short run. Alas Kyle and I ran into each other's arms, and managed to get some cool portraits before flopping back down in the car, exhausted and laughing. 

We stopped at a local town whose name escapes me, creeped around the prettiest church I've ever seen and settled down for beer, wine and cards in a local pub. 

Day 3: Barnafossar Waterfalls & Fashion

My third day started off early with a very windy and rainy drive to the airport. The 45 minutes it took me to get there was the only speck of alone time I had for 12 days, and it was perfect. I was able to take the time to really put myself there, to allow it to feel real.

I drove back to our hostel, tired and confused, and used the last hours before checkout to catch up on some much needed Z's. Around 10 am, we rolled out of bed, gathered our things, checked under the bed 20 times, and got out on the road to Borgarnes. 

Borgarnes is an ocean-side village in Northwest Iceland. Our drive up there consisted of tundra views and basaltic mountains against the pacific ocean. 

Upon arriving, we discovered that our hostel was actually under construction, and unavailable.

This was all explained to us in broken, complicated english, until the manager's daughter arrived. she promptly explained  that Instead of one tiny hostel room for the five of us, they were accommodating us in a 2 story, 4 bedroom house with a porch overlooking the ocean, to make up for their miscommunication. 

It came loaded with a full kitchen, living room, amazing blankets and a large, spacious bathroom. We stayed in a lot of different places, but this one was by far the best. 

 

After unpacking our things and getting a tour of the house by a chihuahua named Prince Pinnochio, we looked up the closest waterfall we could reach before sunset and headed out to Barnafossar Waterfalls.

We got coordinates from google, so we weren't exactly sure what to expect. we pulled up to a park that was incredibly accessible, with walkways and bridges throughout.

with little time to enjoy them, we were relieved our tour of them didn't involve an hour long hike.

Hamrafoss is a wall of tiny waterfalls, that all feed into the same river. 

Carissa, Emily, and I walked out for the falls in our outfits from Gigi boutique, one of the brands we were representing, and trotted around the snowy paths in flared pants and high heels. 

In my planning, I had seen photos of this one icy cavern, but had no luck in finding where it actually was. i accepted that i would probably never locate it, and planned for other adventures.

After 15 minutes of admiring hamrafoss, we turned around to head over this bridge, and there it was. The mysterious cavern of my dreams:

It started snowing, hard, and with smiles on our faces we were completely soaked through.

Iceland, you did it again. 

Day 2: From Northern Lights to Blue Lagoons

For our first night, we went to sleep early; setting an alarm for 1:30 AM. According to the weather forecasts, this night was likely to be the only clear one of our entire trip. With that knowledge, we looked up the Aurora Forecast, researched best sites to watch from, and went to bed. Groggy and delirious, we headed out at 1:30 am. at 2:15 we arrived at Grótta Lighthouse, with high spirits, low expectations, and the warmest gear we could muster. 

At first, we were a little disappointed. There were a few other cars out there, but no dancing lights. We decided to walk the stretch out to the lighthouse anyways. On our way over, we crossed a very dark, muddy field. There were bushels that looked like Trumps Hair and within reach of the lighthouse, we stopped at a stone wall. How weird is that? Why would there be a stone wall there? We climbed over and set up our tripods, buckled down and hoped for the best. The sky was electric, but still. 

A few minutes in, I thought to take a picture of the sky, regardless of its inactivity. Maybe the stars looked cool, I didn't know. I used a few night-photography tricks my cohort taught me and started clicking. When I saw the images flash in my viewing screen, I teared up. "Those aren't clouds!"  I shouted to my team members, "they're the northern lights!!" We focused our lenses toward the ocean and went for it. Though they were little, they filled our hearts. We danced and praised and eventually found the perfect angles to take our portraits against the dim, dancing sky. 

Though I wouldn't call our final images the "best quality" I think they may be my favorites memories from our entire trip. It was just day one, and we were already filled with so much awe. We all laughed together and thought "man, we're pretty cool." We did our thing for about two more hours, until it was early morning and we wanted more sleep. So we packed up our gear and started to head back. We hopped over that strangely placed wall to get back, but as we walked toward the field, our way back was no longer there.

In its place, were waves. It was three am, and thanks to the high tide we no longer had a field to cross. Instead, we had a long, skinny row of icy rocks. We tightened our packs, rolled our sleeves over our hands, and slowly crossed the natural bridge that separated us from The Atlantic and Iceland. As we crawled and slid over the boulders, water splashed up on either side of us.  

Those moments were equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. Hell, I wasn't even wearing gloves, and yet there we were; scaling boulders to evade soaking our gear and ourselves. Emily lead the way with one of two headlamps; the only lights other than the lighthouse that were leading us. And boulder by boulder, we made our way there. After 20 minutes, we set foot on land, looked back, and saw the first wave crash over the rocks we had just climbed. We exhaled, adrenaline rushing through us, and laughed at how terribly unprepared we were for the wilderness that is Iceland.

We headed back to the hostel, ate hummus on the heated kitchen floor, and dreamed of the next 11 days ahead of us. 

Naturally, we awoke at 3 pm the next day, and with a reservation at the blue lagoon, we relaxed into our routine and headed for the natural hot springs around 5 pm. We drove through what felt like mars, and knew we had arrived when we quite literally, smelled farts. To be honest, Iceland kind of smells like farts. With it being very volcanic, sulfur wafts through the earth; a smell that eventually starts to become home. At the Blue Lagoon, we got our towels, our lockers, and spent a good thirty minutes in the dressing room doing conceptual makeup. My vision for the blue lagoon was to reflect the song 'Crystals' by Of Monsters and Men. So we shaded our eyes baby blue, painted our faces with white accents, applied blue lipstick and scurried out to the milky blue waters. Emily, Carissa, and I immediately hopped in. Kyle, however, was absolutely AMAZING and stayed out in the wind and cold to capture videos and portraits of our crazy makeup. 

We laughed and shivered as we tried out different poses and sequences that reflected and interacted with the water. Some looked otherwordly, beautiful. Other times it seemed like we were drowning and had mustaches; The above photo was one of the successful attempts. It was with this project that I realized how much I loved concept work; the idea that instead of attempting to be beautiful, your only job is to be the art. It's a perspective that allows for open, fun, and truly artistic portraits. Kyle put up with us for about an hour, and then it was time to put the cameras away, and enjoy the hot springs for their saunas, water-side bars, and interactive caves and waterfalls. 

Check out our full Blue Lagoon Concept, here.

Our First Adventure: Reykjavik, Iceland

March 7/8: Day 2 of 12:

We departed at 5:00pm from Denver International Airport for a non-stop international flight to Iceland. 7 hours later, we started our first day at 6:45am. Seeing as we planned to drive around the entire island, our first order of business was to rent a car. Personally, I would advise to NEVER use sixt rental; biggest mistake of our trip. However, it's all we had to work with and what we ended up with was little storage space and even less foot room. At 8 am, we got our car and were on our way to our first hostel in downtown Reykjavik. 

The drive to the hostel was serene. Everything was so empty and vast. We hooked up our phones to the car speakers and let our well-thought-out playlist narrate our drive. We were incredibly excited. Exhausted, yes. But in disbelief that we were finally here. 

 

We arrived early at our hostel, and passed out until 3pm. Jet lag is fo real. 

 

At 3, we decided to get up and explore the city. There was a charming lake right across the road and we got to experience Icelanders up close and personal. The lake was filled with swans and ducks that were so used to people that you could walk right up to them and get in their face. As for the reykjavikians (?) they literally bring GIANT trash bags just full of bread crumbs, to feed all the birds. And it's not just one person. there are a LOT of people doing this. We saw many examples throughout our trip of how generous Icelanders are, even to pesky birds. It's almost unsettling. 

From there we just trotted around the city; posed in front of fun murals, stopped to pet cats and explored a plethora of cathedrals and churches. 

This one church in particular; was very quiet. Speaking, or any sound-making for that matter, was completely unacceptable. We were even self-conscious about the shutter sounds of our cameras; so I chose to video instead of shoot. As I was maneuvering my camera, I accidentally clicked the shutter and just that tiny noise echoed through the cathedral. My natural reflex was to mutter "Shit." You can guess which one echoed louder. Carissa and I were in pain trying to muffle our laughter. As our friend Austin would say "Smooth as sandpaper."

My overall feel of Reykjavik is that it is a developing city. As tourism to Iceland increases, the capitol grows. Shops pop up, people multiply and Art starts to cover old buildings. It was smaller than expected, but surprisingly homey and pleasant.