| Unplugged Weddings + Uncle Bobs |

Photo collage above by Gia Henley | This is a BTS image of myself (on the right) with Uncle Bob next to me. He did this THE WHOLE TIME. 

Photo collage above by Gia Henley | This is a BTS image of myself (on the right) with Uncle Bob next to me. He did this THE WHOLE TIME. 

Let me start by saying that I feel this is EXTREMELY important to read for all brides to be. I attach a document that’s titled “The benefits of an Unplugged Wedding” to every single one of my wedding packets and sit down with my brides to stress the importance of an unplugged wedding. I had never felt the need to write an entire blog post about “unplugged weddings”, but I feel like it’s necessary more than ever with each and every wedding I go to. I am going to be as real with you all as I can be. No sugar coating it because it is such an important topic. You don’t want any moment of your wedding day ruined and in order to show you all how serious this is when it comes to your wedding planning, I have to share some tough love with you all. This is going to be looooooooong and blunt so bear with me. It’s worth the read. *HUGS*

And a HUGE thank you to the awesome photographers that shared their images to showcase the importance of Unplugged Weddings!!
Photo Credit: Andrew and Chrissy Photography (www.andrewandchrissy.com)

Photo Credit: Andrew and Chrissy Photography (www.andrewandchrissy.com)

 

First things first…

 

What is an “Unplugged Wedding”?

Photo Credit: Story and Rhythm 

Photo Credit: Story and Rhythm 

 

The best way I can describe an unplugged wedding is simply by turning off your electronic devices (smart phones, iPads, cameras,  portable gaming devices [some people are cray cray], camcorders, laptops, tv’s, etc.) and being 110% present during a wedding ceremony or special event. I truly believe that it is extremely crucial to unplug your electronic device of choice and CHOOSE to be present in the moments that matter most. We spend so much time in our lives plugged into some sort of electronic device (I know I sure as heck do!) so we should take the time to turn them off and ENJOY THE MOMENTS THAT SURROUND US

Photo Credit: Simple Smiles Photography (www.simplesmilesphoto.com)

Photo Credit: Simple Smiles Photography (www.simplesmilesphoto.com)

 

Some people may ask what the big deal is about guests Instagram-ing or SnapChatting the photos, but I can list a number of reasons why this SHOULD be a crucial no-no (at least during the ceremony).

Photo Credit: Chelsea Renay Busch

Photo Credit: Chelsea Renay Busch

 

Brides + Grooms: By asking your guests, family members, and friends to turn off their electronics, you are asking them to experience this day with you and be part of the most important day of your life. You are asking them to be there with you every step of the way throughout your first day of marriage bliss, rather than having them relate through their LCD screens. I encourage you to ask your guests to not only be there with you to enjoy the happiness and fun, but to be more than just observers of your wedding day. 

You have put a lot of work for a long amount of time (days, weeks, months, maybe even years!) into choosing every detail of your wedding day. You have chosen your perfect photographer(s) to match your style and to capture the day you marry the love of your life just as you envision it to be. Your photographer will document your love story much better than any camera phone can, I promise you. Think to yourself, when you get your images back do you want the photos to be of your guests enjoying the day or of your guests experiencing the day with their faces glued to their phones? For me, I would much rather photograph guests with smiling faces joyously watching the bride and groom walk down the aisle than big ol’ embarrassing tablets and smartphones covering their faces. It makes for much better photos. Just saying… as nicely as possible. ;) 

Photo Credit: Genevieve Giguere

Photo Credit: Genevieve Giguere

Guests: The bride and groom have invited you to enjoy this moment with them and take part in one of the best days of their lives. By covering or burying your face into your phones, you're taking away from their special moment(s) and distracting others from what is happening. Take the time to experience those little moments such as when the bride is walking down the aisle to her future husband. Yes, it may be the COOLEST Instagram post ever that can get more than fifty likes on (I get excited for more than 30 likes per Instagram post so that’s the number I thought would be cool. Sorry, back to the point of this.), but if you use your selfie stick in the middle of the aisle to snap a pic of her and her father, she’s going to miss moments of seeing her handsome groom crying tears of joy at seeing the most beautiful thing he’s ever laid eyes on because she has to avoid the selfie stick in her way OR the groom is going to be distracted with that huge iPad sticking out of the aisle that he might not even tear up. He might just be like, “whoa! When did cousin Ted get that fancy thing!”. Seriously, don’t be “that guest”. Your post or snapchat can wait

Photo Credit: Ever After Photography MB (www.facebook.com/MyrleBeachEverAfterPhotography)

Photo Credit: Ever After Photography MB (www.facebook.com/MyrleBeachEverAfterPhotography)

Photo Credit: Pam Burke (www.pamburkephotography.com)

Photo Credit: Pam Burke (www.pamburkephotography.com)

Photo Credit: Evalani Stockton-Nieto

Photo Credit: Evalani Stockton-Nieto

Photo Credit: Maura Jane Photography

Photo Credit: Maura Jane Photography

Photo Credit: Laurie Rossell

Photo Credit: Laurie Rossell

Photo Credit: Jadie Jo Italsano

Photo Credit: Jadie Jo Italsano

Let me also clarify that I don’t have a problem whatsoever with guests capturing photos and sharing them later on with the couple.  It makes me happy to know there will be other pictures and photos of moments my second shooter or I may have missed or seeing things from a different person’s perspective.  And I strongly encourage anyone who has an interest in photography to follow their dreams and take photos because photos are fun and memories last forever!  Buuuuut, I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to when you are about to capture the most perfect candid moment and then BOOM, a guest steps in your way with their camera phone and ruins it (UGH!).  Moment ruiner. 

Photo Credit: Erin Manson Kirchoff

Photo Credit: Erin Manson Kirchoff

Ohhhh, and let me tell you about the dreaded “Uncle Bobs”. Uncle Bobs are guests, family members, or friends that have nice camera equipment and volunteer to take photos throughout the day. Uncle Bobs truly and lovingly mean well… a majority of the time. I truly feel for Uncle Bobs everywhere. Your kind gesture will not go unnoticed. Although, I totally welcome and try to work with anyone who wants to take photos, but there is a time and place for everything. During the ceremony is NOT that time. Uncle Bobs can become pushy, rude, or just annoying (sorry about it). If this happens, Uncle Bob will be asked to stop pretty quickly. Uncle Bobs are the worst photo bombers. Period.

Photo Credit: Andrew and Chrissy Photography (www.andrewandchrissy.com)

Photo Credit: Andrew and Chrissy Photography (www.andrewandchrissy.com)

Photo Credit: Wayne Hall

Photo Credit: Wayne Hall

Photo Credit: Katie Jones Bohannon

Photo Credit: Katie Jones Bohannon

Photo Credit: Viridian Images Photography

Photo Credit: Viridian Images Photography

Photo Credit: Kristie C Jones

Photo Credit: Kristie C Jones

And if you are in the wedding party using your electronic devices, it makes a photographer's job that much harder. 

Photo Credit: Chris Laister

Photo Credit: Chris Laister

Photo Credit: Denise Mattox (Yes, that is the Preacher taking photos!)

Photo Credit: Denise Mattox (Yes, that is the Preacher taking photos!)

Now let me get to the last point of my long list of why “Unplugged Weddings” are the bees knees. I strongly advice to guests or bridal party members to NOT post getting ready photos or just any posts until the reception OR after the wedding. Imagine the groom opening his Facebook app to see a photo of his bride already ready to walk down the aisle. First look RUINED. Or what if the bride’s most favorite cousin in the whole wide world is on deployment and he decides to surprise her on her wedding day, but someone posts a photo totally spilling the beans. Guess what? Surprise RUINED. I could go on and on with examples, but I won’t. I think you guys get the idea.

Photo Credit: Andrew and Chrissy Photography (www.andrewandchrissy.com)

Photo Credit: Andrew and Chrissy Photography (www.andrewandchrissy.com)

Now let me take off my attempted tough love face to put on my understanding and loving face on to tell you the rest of my spiel (stay with me, guys).

I don’t advise the whole wedding to be totally unplugged. I think that having electronics out during the reception is more than acceptable. Especially if you want your guests to use the cute wedding hashtag that is just uniquely brilliant and amazeballs (WeddingWire has the BEST wedding hashtag generator if you get in a creative funk!). I also think it’s awesome for the bride and groom to have photos to look at from the day while they patiently wait for their photographs from their photographers. And as an avid social media junkie, I know how much fun I have posting things (especially my food, but we are talking about weddings here. Whoops). 

Photo Credit: Julie Steinberg

Photo Credit: Julie Steinberg

Photo Credit: Kesha Monroe

Photo Credit: Kesha Monroe

 

While we photographers can be the first to admit this, we also realize that our love for our electronic devices can be pretty obsessive. We just strongly believe in the power of turning them off and being present in the moment

Photo Credit: Morgan Parremore

Photo Credit: Morgan Parremore

 

So again, I strongly advise all of my wedding clients, brides to be, friends, and family that when planning your wedding, PLEASE seriously consider having an “Unplugged Wedding”. Your wedding day will go by in the blink of an eye, take the time to enjoy the company of those that surround you and experience your first day as husband and wife. Guests, please respect the bride and groom as well as the hired photographers. Spend the day cherishing the moments that is their wedding day with them. I promise you all that the hired photographers will do their job in capturing the day elegantly so that you can fully be present and enjoy these moments. 

Defeat + Positivity | The Balance of Both

Let’s talk a little about the feeling of defeat.

Everybody has moments (and to those who don’t, I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOU!) where it feels like you just keep getting knocked down over and over and over. 

I want to throw it back to when I first started this journey of photography about 4 years ago and my experiences with defeat.

I had just turned 19 years old and knew absolutely NOTHING about the photography business. I only knew that I liked to take photos and that I was good at it (I was definitely NOT as good as I thought I was). I was set that this is what I wanted to do from there on out. My dad knew a local photographer who could possibly mentor me. I asked and was overjoyed when they said yes. I tagged along with them on a shoot, brought my cheap-y portfolio that I was super proud of, and everything seemed awesome (or so I thought. They didn’t give me any mentoring or advice. I just shot with them, wasn’t given any insight on what to do or what to look for, and then we left.) They did say I had a good eye and that they loved my poses in my book and if they would mind if they used a few which seemed odd to me, but I didn’t care. I was so stoked that I would be learning from a professional and that my photography education would blossom!.. Well, they NEVER answered me after that and I was left in the dark with a broken heart.

Seriously. I was devastated.

 

Fast forward to a few months after that, my auntie Laurie’s best friend is a photographer in Arizona (shout out to Jennifer with Autumn ArtOgraphy. You are AMAZING!) who was able to help me with the business side of things and how her journey was going. She took photos of me to have as head shots and I was so excited! She was the reason I started my first photography page on Facebook and helped me come up with a name.

So “All That Jazz Photography” was born. And I WAS ALL ABOUT IT. I loved the name. I was totally legit (or so I thought) and life was good. Until I got a message from a woman in another state saying that I had the same business name as her and for me to change it. I told her it shouldn’t matter if it was registered with my state and that it wouldn’t affect her business since our states were so far from one another. She then messaged me back saying that I was too young to know any better, that she was a veteran and I was taking her livelihood from her, and that if I wanted to make it in this industry that I had to respect the people that actually do this as a profession. I didn’t argue, I changed the name and told her that it wouldn’t be a problem anymore. She then told me that when I became a legit professional that she would add me to some Facebook groups that could help me and for me to change my profile picture because a pop-up flash on my camera made me look like the amateur I was… OUCH. I deleted the Facebook page, took a break from photography, and focused on my two full time jobs I was working at the time. 

 

But, I missed it. 

Photography is a part of my soul and I felt empty without it. So I made a new page with a long name that probably nobody would have so they couldn’t bully me via social media. And it boomed. 

 

Fast forward again to about 2 years ago. I got a message from a photographer out of Espanola who wanted me to capture head shots for her named Kandice (I LOVE YOU! And we still need to take photos!). We messaged back and forth and I was so honored that she asked me. She messaged me a few weeks later and told me about a Facebook group I should join that was awesome and had photographers from New Mexico and that they were fun, supportive, and it was really informational. I requested to join and LET ME JUST TELL YOU that joining that group was the biggest pivotal moment in my career. This group welcomed me with open arms and I learned SO MUCH from this amazing group of professionals. I started attending workshops (I didn’t even know there was workshops offered in NM!!), taking CreativeLive classes, studying Pinterest for photo inspiration, made tons of new friends, assisted styled shoots, and just started reading everything and anything I could. All because of Kandice’s kind heart I was introduced to this amazing, life changing world that I never would have known about. 

 

You truly never know when one random act of kindness will change someone’s life. 

 

I’ve had my ups and downs. Every single day is a new learning experience for me. 

I’ve done almost a hundred portrait sessions and I have about 50+ weddings under my belt. I went through a rebrand which finally has my heart at peace. I run this business with my best friend and life partner. I flew to Louisiana to learn from the best of the best, Three Nails Photography. I work for a stellar modeling agency in Albuquerque. And I love every good and bad experience I have in this amazing journey I have embarked on. And I’m not saying any of this to be cocky or arrogant, I am mentioning these because if those two bad experiences wouldn’t have happened then I wouldn’t be where I am today

 

When I’m having a rough time I look back at these things that have happened. If I can get through those crappy times, I can sure as heck move forward onto much better things. Which I’m telling myself repeatedly over these last couple of weeks because of the move and series of unfortunate events that we are going through right now (please send me positive vibes!). 

 

So I am telling you all, don’t let a bad experience or a few stop you from achieving your goals. Whether it be wanting to be a photographer or a make-up artist or a magician or maybe you want to find the cure for cancer; the bad times prepare you to appreciate the amazing things ahead of you. Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel defeated. Use it to fuel your fire. Your passion WILL take you far. 

 

The struggle makes the journey worth it. I promise you that. 
 
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Happy Birthday, Alex!

Happy Birthday, Alex!

 

Words can’t even begin to describe how lucky I am to celebrate another birthday with you. There are 24 thousand reasons why I think you are the most amazing individual that has ever walked the face of the Earth, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.  

 

You are the hardest working man I know. 

 

You are completely and utterly selfless.

 

I love the strong bond you have with your family. 

 

You aren’t afraid to speak your mind.

 

You don’t let anything stop you from accomplishing your goals.

 

You know exactly what you want.

 

You have the kindest soul. And always willing to help anyone in need. 

 

Going to Disneyland with you will forever be my favorite thing.

 

You’re patient and understanding.

 

You’re the best listener ever. Which means a lot, especially since I talk way too much. 

 

You never cease to amaze me with your wonderfulness. 

 

You always keep me grounded, even when I feel like my world is falling apart.

 

You are the most supportive and loving person in the world.

 

You are almost ALWAYS right. 

 

You never break your promises. 

 

 

Thank you for sharing your life with me and I could not be more proud to share this day with you, my love. You are the light of my life and I am blessed to walk this road of life with you. I can’t wait to see what the future brings for us.

Happy Birthday, my love. I love you more than words can say.

| Blog Promise. |

I want my blog to be more than just strictly photography. I read other blogs and I feel like I’m reading commercials. The photos are beautiful and I hope I am not offending others, but I truly want to be connected with the people that follow my blog (even if that’s only one person), I don’t want to be a commercial. I want to be connected.

 

So once in awhile, I will write personal blog posts that hit close to home. 

I will write blogs about being a foodie and my new recipes for you all to try.

I will write blogs about my healthy journey to not only keep myself accountable, but to help inspire others as well.

I will write blogs about my favorite products and thoughts about new trends.

I’ll have guest bloggers come and write interesting posts about their lives and journeys.

I’ll write blogs about books, movies, trips, and things I can review about.

I plan to write blogs about Disneyland and helpful tips for planning your next trip.

 

I promise you that I will try to not be strictly business and boring. 

 

I will try to write new and interesting blogs. I will come up with as many creative styled shoots as I can dream up. I will find things to talk about. And I will try to not leave dry spells between posts. 

 

Even if it means making a whole pot of coffee and typing blog posts for hours and hours. 

 

This blog will be more than just photography. 

It will be worth reading. 

 

Stephanie Spühler | Recovery Advocate | Heroin Addiction | Albuquerque, NM

First and foremost,

I want to thank Stephanie for letting me document her story and allowing me to share her extraordinary journey with you. Thank you all for taking the time to read the message Stephanie is sending out. There is no doubt in my mind that Stephanie's message will truly help the lives of those dealing with addiction and touch the hearts of many. 

Stephanie Spühler is hero and an inspiration.

She is a dreamer, a writer, a recovery advocate, and a loving soul. 

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. " - drugabuse.gov

 

Life is so simple, you know? All I need is my car, my music, my money, and my heroin. 

I wake up every day with the same routine:

-Get enough money to buy a gram of black (Duration Time: 4+ Hours).

    -Pawn my ipod, laptop, computer, and/or phone.

    -Withdraw money that charges from my bank account.

    -Steal from Walmart.

    -Steal from parents. 

    -Sell my plasma on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

-Call my drug dealer and go meet him where he needs me to go (Duration Time: 1 Hour (hopefully)).

-Shoot up either thirty to sixty dollars’ worth of the blackest heroin into my little veins (Duration Time: 1 Second). 

-Feel the rush of endorphins blow up in my brain, let my body sink into the seat of my car, close my eyes, and nod out. My heart beats slowly pounding to every other minute on the clock and I can’t feel anything-no pain, nothing but happiness that I’m numb to the world for the next hour or so.

    All that work was worth this one rush and worth calmness for a short period of time.

            I can’t wait for the next moment to feel this.

I kept that little lie going for five years, repeating that routine twice a day, every day.  I still went to school every day getting A’s and B’s in all of my Middle School Teaching Classes. I kept my job serving the whole time-never was late or had any conflicts there. I still lived at home so I put on a great show for my parents  that I was getting things done and had no problems paying my own bills. I even would lie to myself, “Stephanie, you can live this way forever. You’re not like the rest of these ‘druggies’, you’re functional.”

        You see, life’s so simple-until it’s not so simple anymore.

After a while my veins started to collapse from injecting, my weight dropped almost fifteen pounds (mostly muscle from when I used to play soccer), dark bags started forming under my hallow eyes, anxiety and stress started to take over my spirit, I never had money to do anything with my friends so I’d have to make up lies to stay in, I’d never be home to spend time with my family because I’d be out all day trying to find dope to stop these killer withdrawals I was having.  

Oh, the withdrawals!

Let me tell you something my friend, I wouldn’t even wish them on my worst enemy-nobody should feel this pain EVER. If the body doesn’t get what it is now dependent on, it creates flu-like symptoms (only more painful and with constant anxiety): you’re intestines pinch together, you have cold sweats constantly, you can’t sit still for a second because you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin, your nose starts to run like a leaky faucet, you start getting tremors on your skin, yawning uncontrollably, vomiting what little you have in your system (mostly bile) a constant rapid heartbeat, and all that you can think about  is if you don’t find some heroin quick, you’d rather die than feel this intense pain.

Feeling these withdraws made me use more and more heroin which, in turn, actually made withdrawals more severe and they hit my body faster because my tolerance was so high. Mind you, heroin is almost ten times stronger than morphine-you know, the stuff professional doctors give their patients for pain and here I am blasting it into my veins twice a day.

This whole damn thing is a lose-lose situation because you can die from a heroin overdose and you can die from withdrawals if they are bad enough on the body.

So, is it worth it?

The monster that I became would have said yes. The ‘druggie’ I became would have said screw everything in this life heroin is the only thing to keep you happy.

However, I’m too emotional to not care for my family and friends. I saw how my actions were killing them just as much as it was killing me. I wasn’t actually happy-I was tired, drained, broke, skinny, starving for nutrients, weak, depressed, angry, ashamed.

I had to stop, I wanted to stop.

So I did.

Not with the snap of my  fingers or anything like that because I’m still working on myself and I’m still having to deny myself every second of everyday-but it gets easier. I have some relief as each day passes and I can look up at the blue sky and thank God for reviving my heart when I passed out in my car.

I thank God for leaving my brain unharmed by the abuse I put it through,  I thank God I didn’t contract any diseases,

I thank God for giving me chance after chance to get my life together.

Without His grace and unconditional love for me I should be dead right now. I should have gotten what I deserved for lying, cheating, and stealing; but that’s not the God that I know.

He gave me life and purpose for each day.

Sure I may mess up still and that’s okay but as long as I’m honest with myself, you know? I’m not perfect, but I’m not meant to die in my car, I’m not meant to wither away just because I don’t think peace and joy was meant for somebody like me-because it  is.

It’s meant for all of us, you know?

Life really can be simple if you let it be. You don’t need to hunt and work for something or someone to make you feel happy and whole, my friends. Happiness is opening your eyes in the morning and realizing you’ve been breathing soundly all through the night. It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing how beautifully you were created. It is seeing your family laugh because they are happy. Happiness is what you naturally feel just because you are alive. 

Now I’m crying.

Because I feel happy.

Because it’s just that simple.