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November 15, 2016

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

A week ago, Kevin and I headed out to Colorado for an engagement session (it was so gorgeous; see it here!). This was the first time that we have both left Henry overnight since he was born, save that one time last New Year’s when we got the flu and my mom took Henry to their house to keep him away from us since we were both unable to even stand up. I won’t lie; leading up to the trip, I was sick with anxiety. I knew he’d be fine at my parent’s house, but leaving him was nevertheless incredibly difficult.

Thankfully, once we hit the ground in Denver, we kept our schedule really, really busy so I was able to stay distracted. We flew into Denver Thursday night, grabbed our rental car, and headed to our hotel for some sleep. Friday morning, we got up early and grabbed some breakfast on our way out of town as we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. The weather in Denver was unseasonably warm (low 70s during the day!), but thankfully we had thrown in some hats and gloves because the temperatures out on the trails and up in the mountains were much lower. We started our hike at the Bear Lake trailhead, where the early morning temperature was about 19 degrees. It stayed pretty brisk with the combination of the day warming up and us climbing higher, but back down at base, it felt great in the mid-40s!

We hiked all morning and ate lunch on the trail before heading back. In the early afternoon when we got back to our car, we drove to another trailhead, Fern Lake, to hike some more. By the time we reached The Pool, we knew we were losing sunlight and that it would get cold really quickly. We had gotten that far though, so we decided to hike another 1.8 miles to the falls. Little did we know that it was a really difficult hike with a steep incline and very rocky path. When we finally made it to the falls, we were able to rest for only a couple of minutes before quickly heading back down. We joked that we felt like the people who climb Mount Everest; after all that, they can only stay there for about 5 minutes before going back down. I also thought that maybe we should’ve planted a flag up there.

We got back to the car just as the sun was starting to dip. We were sore everywhere. My kneecaps were burning. I’ve never experienced that before. My shoulders and neck were sharp with pain (we had to constantly be looking down at our feet to watch our next steps). We ended up hiking almost 16 miles through the mountains that day with over 33,000 steps (my total for the day was 34,114 steps). As with any extensive hiking, even with our bodies being done, the views we had seen during the day were absolutely spectacular. And the snow that I ate to refresh myself on the trail was delicious, even if a bear may have peed on it.


As we were leaving the park, we came around a corner and saw a whole herd of elk grazing on the side of a hill. We pulled the car over and I grabbed the camera. As we were watching, we noticed that on the opposite side of the road, out in an open meadow, there was an even bigger herd of elk. It was so exciting to see (on our last trip to Colorado, we didn’t see any wildlife at all!) and also fascinating to hear them. Did you know that sound similar to orcas? Two young males played together, sparring in fun with their small antlers. One large make tried to mount a female; she rejected him without a thought. We were so incredibly close to them.

The engagement session was on Saturday afternoon so, after sleeping in a bit on Saturday morning, we decided to keep the day a little more low-key while giving our bodies a chance to rest a bit. In search of more animals (particularly bison), we went to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal right outside of Denver. We saw deer, birds, and prairie dogs, but it wasn’t until we were nearly leaving that we finally saw some bison! They were pretty far away, but we were still excited. What we didn’t know was that later in the day we would see some very, very closely out in Daniel’s Gate Park where I was taking engagement photos.

After the arsenal, we went to the Red Rocks. It was so beautiful there, but we were also very fascinated with everyone who was working out in the amphitheater. The way the rows are set up are perfect for a vast variety of working out and lots of folks were running back and forth through the rows starting at the top and snaking back and forth all the way to bottom. Others were doing box leaps row to row all the way up; still others doing side lunges up and down, inclined and declined pushups, stair runs, and planks. It was incredible. I wish so badly we had something like that around here.

We headed over to Daniel’s Gate Park to scope things out prior to the session and came upon these bison. We couldn’t quit figure it out since they were behind a gate; were they privately owned? (We assumed so.) And then we started discussing things like, “Do people out here raise bison like Iowans raise cows?” Unsure. The jury’s still out on that one.

After the engagement session, we headed back to our hotel downtown and ordered pizza for pickup from a place in the pedestrian mall. Our hotel was right there so we were able to enjoy some late evening walking through downtown. We grabbed our pizza and stayed in that night watching football and relaxing.

The time change was Sunday and I still hadn’t adjusted to Colorado time so I woke up at 4:30 (what my body would’ve thought was 6:30). Since neither of us could sleep, we ended up getting up and finding a place to grab breakfast that early on a Sunday. We walked to Snooze (a glorious recommendation from Sally & Erik!) and enjoyed the most delicious breakfast!!! If you’re ever in town, please try it! I got the pancake flight and Kevin got the breakfast pot pie. They were both amazing.

Our flight left Denver at 3:55 and we needed to get the rental car returned a little before 2. We figured we had time for one more quick hike before stopping over at our friends’ house on the way out of town. On a recommendation from Sally & Erik, we drove about an hour to hike up Saint Mary’s Glacier.  The hike to the lake was only about 3/4 of a mile, but it was really rocky and absolutely freezing cold. The starting elevation was over 10,000 feet and the car said the temperature was 29 degrees. With the wind chill, it was much closer to 10 to 15 degrees. It sort of took our breaths away, the cold.

We didn’t stay long at the time since it was a) freezing and b) we wanted to grab some lunch to take along to James & Sky’s. We grabbed some food and got to their house around 12:30. James was gone, but it was just so great to see Skylar and meet their brand new baby, Forest (who is absolutely gorgeous and perfect in every way!).

We were only able to stay about an hour before heading to the airport. By the time we returned our car and got the shuttle the airport, we knew we were running slightly behind. Thankfully, the airline opened a row specific to our flight since so many people were waiting to get through so we made it to our gate with about 5 minutes to spare before boarding began (and just enough time to grab a coffee!). By this point, all of our activities and commitments were done and I could.not.wait to get home to see Henry again. My body was just aching to hold him.

Our flight landed a couple of minutes early and we grabbed our bags and hit the road to go pick up Henry. My parents had taken him to their church Sunday evening and mom had him out in the back when we walked in. He saw us from across the foyer and popped up off the floor and starting running to us, shouting, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” That hug was the best ever. Traveling after kids is a whole different ballgame than traveling before. I was so glad we were able to enjoy beautiful Colorado, but it felt equally delightful to be home again, reunited as a family.

November 10, 2016

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

I was so excited for this engagement session and not just because the location was breathtaking–we flew out to Colorado and shot this session at Daniel’s Gate Park right outside of Denver–but also because I knew going into it that this couple was something special. Sally & Erik met during their time in college at the University of Iowa. “We had mutual friends and had been introduced briefly one time, but the first time we actually met was New Years Eve. I was going to Chicago with some girlfriends to celebrate downtown and heard that some of our friends from college would be joining. My girlfriends and I had booked a room at a hotel for the night and decided everyone in the group would meet there first and then go out to the celebration. I’ll never forget when Erik walked in the door with his friends. I was instantly curious about him and wanted to get to know him more. He was wearing a black suit and looked very handsome.

“After Erik and his friends (some of whom were mutual friends) arrived, we were all reintroduced and decided to head out to the event which was being held downtown. I’ll never forget how cold it was that night! When waiting for a car, Erik offered me his jacket which I was giddy on the inside about. What really stood out to me that night was how polite, kind, and gentle Erik was. He took the time to open doors, listen and ask questions about where I was from, and fine out what my interests were.

“Erik and I strayed from our group a little to find a more quiet corner where we could talk at one point during the night. It was so nice to be able to talk and get to know each other more without the music and people. As the night went on we danced, talked some more, and had a little bubbly! At midnight, they had a toast and then counted down until to the New Year. As midnight struck, I looked around and all my friends had a New Year’s kiss. I turned around and saw Erik, who took my hand and gave me a sweet little kiss. I tend to be very shy and modest, so my plan was going to be to just hide in the corner and wait til the infamous midnight had struck. But in the most polite and gentle way, he gave me a small kiss and said thank you for a great night.

“After midnight I was getting tired and one of my friends wasn’t feeling good and wanted to go back to the hotel, so I decided to ask the group and see who all wanted to come back with us. No one answered, except Erik which I am so thankful for! It was impossible to find a cab and not only did my friend not feel too well, but her shoes began to hurt also. So Erik, like the gentleman he was, carried her back to the hotel with me in the freezing cold for probably 5 or 6 blocks. I’ll never forget messing up the GPS getting back to the hotel and steering us the wrong way and Erik not getting upset or anything, just going with the flow and helping out.”

Sally & Erik recently moved to the Denver area and we obviously are not familiar with the area either so we relied on some suggestions from friends as well as a bit of scouting beforehand. We settled on Daniel’s Gate Park which was absolutely breathtaking. They had wanted to capture the mountains and the views that they now call home and I’m so so so excited with how perfect the weather and location was for them!


After they finished school in Iowa, they moved to Minnesota for work. Erik proposed while they were living there (they now live in Colorado–obviously–and are getting married in Iowa next year!) “The day was spent outside in Minnesota, sending time with friends and enjoying the beautiful summer weather. Erik had been acting strange all day. When we went paddle boarding with our friends, he was in such a rush to get home before dinner. We had planned to go to our favorite restaurant with all of our friends. When we got done paddle boarding, Erik was very persistant about going on a walk. I had been exhausted from exploring and paddle boarding, but finally (after some persuading) agreed to go. I was planning on wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but all of a sudden all my girlfriends started texting me saying they were wearing dresses so I quickly threw on a summer white dress! We headed out to a park that we frequently walked to and love to go to since it was so close by. As we were walking, I noticed Erik seemed very off. He was not really focused on anything I was asking or saying. When we get to the park I start to turn around to come home and he suggested we walked over to some trees. We walked between the trees and the sun was just beaming through them, creating such a beautiful scene and he began to talk. I don’t even know if I remember what he said, it was all so amazing and such a blur! He got down on one knee, asked me to marry him, and I said yes! Then all of our closest friends jumped out from the trees to surprise us! They had been taking pictures and were watching the whole time. They threw us a celebration party after and we grilled out in their backyard and celebrated. It was amazing.”

They are a perfect match for each other. Erik says that Sally is “the nicest, most positive person I have ever met before. She is always selfless, kind, and happy.” And Sally describes him as being hard-working and generous. “He is always willing to help others out and give to others. He is also the most hard-working and humble person I know. He gets to work before anyone else and is so devoted to each and every one of his office members. He is so humble about his accomplishments and does not like any recognition. His desire to work hard so that I can be a stay-at-home mom someday is so admirable and I can’t wait for our future together.”


Sally & Erik, thank you so much for bringing me out to Colorado! It was such a joy to meet you both and I’m so excited for your wedding next summer! I hope these images bring smiles to your faces and capture you guys exactly as you are in this beautiful new place you call home.

October 4, 2016

Almost exactly a year ago, Brooke reached out to me for engagement photos. Her and Zhas were engaged, but not yet decided on a wedding date (or location) so, as unusual as it is for me, I shot their engagement session without having their wedding booked. If you know this couple, you can see why I quickly fell in love with them the moment I met them at the park for their photos and I’ve secretly been holding out hope for this entire past year that I’d get the chance to photograph their wedding, whenever it may happen.

So imagine my absolute delight when I got an email out of the blue from Brooke a couple of months ago wondering if I by any chance was available on September 24th to photograph their wedding in her sister’s backyard in Chicago. It was a miracle, but that date was open and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since.

The night before their wedding, we hosted my client appreciation dinner and, after snatching a few hours of sleep, I hopped in the car to head to Chicago on Saturday morning. One of my favorite parts of small weddings is the relaxed calm that comes with them. Typically, the less people involved, the less stress involved and I just adored stepping into Brooke’s room that day to find her and her sister causally watching football and slowly getting ready. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is to see a truly relaxed bride. Brooke had everything laid out for me so they relaxed while I got to work photographing the wedding details.

Brooke’s mom passed away a few years ago and she has since worn her mom’s ring on her right hand. She pinned a brooch with her mom’s photo onto her bouquet.

I always have my couples fill out a questionnaire prior to their wedding with important details like addresses, names of family & bridal party, vendor info, etc. I knew much of it wouldn’t apply to this wedding day, but I sent it out as the standard form regardless. Under the listing for “wedding coordinator”, Brooke wrote, “Hah, my sister?! She owes me for planning her wedding!” I love the bond these two share though and we had many laughs throughout the day. I might’ve secretly pretended to be part of their sisterhood.

Brooke & Zhas shared a first look and this was right before he turned around to see her.

Brooke’s sister, Morgan, had indeed done her homework and scouted out some amazing places for us to photograph. This simple little dock was my absolute favorite. I will always choose light over location and the light here was absolutely stunning. (See all the light flickering through the leaves in the background? It gives so much dimension to a photo!)

Not only do these two sisters get along like best friends, but their husbands are like brothers as well. This foursome is the funniest, most charming group I’ve ever seen and I was just loving getting to see their beautiful bonds. To add to that, each couple got a dog from the same litter earlier this year, a boy and a girl.

After their reception in Kyle & Morgan’s backyard, everyone headed over to Maggiano’s Little Italy for dinner.

Brooke & Zhas, thank you for allowing me to capture your day. It was truly an honor in so many ways. I know that my couples forever cherish their wedding photos, but your makes it even a little sweeter knowing that my images are allowing Zhas’ family to share in the day with you. It has been such a pleasure getting to know you and I’m so excited for what the future holds!

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Florals: Eco Flower

Paper Suite: Zazzle

Bridal Gown: BHLDN Dresses

Maid’s Gown: JJ’s House

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Ceremony Venue: Private Residence

Reception Venue: Maggiano’s Little Italy

April 20, 2016

FILED IN: Travel

Admittedly, I saw very little of Yale when I was in New Haven last week, but I’m so glad for the small pieces I did see. My trip to Connecticut was a quick one, but jam-packed. I flew in on Tuesday, grabbed my rental car, and drove from Hartford to New Haven, where I had just enough time to get into my hotel room, rest for a bit while meeting my roommate, Morgan, and then drive to Justin & Mary’s house for dinner. It turned into a late night, as I expected it would, of getting to know everyone before the Walk Through A Wedding workshop began the next morning.

The schedule for both days (Wednesday & Thursday) were full 12+ hour days so on Wednesday morning, we had about 30 minutes before the workshop started to park the car and walk around the campus a bit. One of the things I love so much about the east coast is its rich history. Not as much as Europe, of course, but rich nevertheless for America. The architecture was impressive and I also had a constant stream of Gilmore Girl quotes running through my head as I milled about, which made me smile to myself.


August 17, 2015

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

Edisto_Island_Vacation_0062.jpgWe’re back from vacation and loving being in our own home again. Vacation is always so wonderful, but the reality of getting back to your own bed and routine is also a joy.

We had a great time and I’m going to try to summarize it all because, well, a week’s worth of beach, sun, and family reunioning can tend to blur together rather quickly.

Kevin, Henry, and I left Iowa Friday afternoon and drove (and drove and drove and drove) until 1:30 Saturday morning, when we grabbed a hotel for a few hours of sleep. We had been very nervous about how Henry (currently 8 months old) would handle the long drive and he surprised us by being completely happy-go-lucky about it. (It’s about an 18-hour drive…so…that’s a long time for me, but even more so for a baby.)

We got to Edisto Island, South Carolina around 6:00 PM Saturday. This vacation was a huge family reunion with my mom’s side of the family so we rented 4 beach homes and split up between them. I was so excited that my sisters and their families, my parents, and my younger brother were all in the same house.
Edisto_Island_Vacation_0063.jpg Edisto_Island_Vacation_0064.jpg


March 17, 2014

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

letter-the coastal highway took us straight into Santa Barbara and, since we had some time to kill before we had to return the rental car, we decided to park by the pier and stretch our legs while checking out the downtown area. I’m so glad we did because the rest of the week, we were at the Fess Parker and really busy with the conference schedule so this was the perfect chance to liesurely adventure.

(See part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

Everything about Santa Barbara was adorable. Literally. Even the mailboxes were cute. There seemed to be lots of city codes keeping everything within a beautiful guidelines of Spanish architecture (or else everyone living and doing business there just has great style). Stucco reflects light so beautifully and it made the whole city burst with life.


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