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anniversary gift idea

LINDSEY+COLE | I made an ice cream mistake


LINDSEY+COLE | I made an ice cream mistake

There was only one bummer about this shoot and that is the fact that I did NOT GET AN ICE CREAM for myself after we finished shooting!!! What’s wrong with me?! Lindsay, one of the most Minneapolis experts I know, recommended Izzy’s Ice Cream for our shoot and yet I still have not tried it for myself. I am ashamed. And hungry.

Also, I wasn’t joking about Lindsey the Minneapolis expert. When we moved to Minnesota, I found her travel page on Insta which led me to her site which led me to a plethora of ALL THINGS MN. It’s like a treasure chest of all things a young, kewl, hip, young person would like to do around Minneapolis (and beyond) and that is exactly who I want to be. Thanks to Lindsey, I now know I wanna ride the Minneapolis Water Taxi, hike around Taylor Falls, and visit..

wait for it

MINNESOTA’S LARGEST LLAMA FARM in Waconia!!!! You can take them for walks! And they even have a llama that was in a Dorito’s commerical!! I’ve always wanted to meet a celebrity and I feel like this may be my chance.

Need I say more? I need not. Here’s their pictures. And when I say ‘their’ I’m talking about Lindsey and Cole. Not the llamas.


KAMI+MICHAEL | the perfect excuse to wear a floor length gown


KAMI+MICHAEL | the perfect excuse to wear a floor length gown

Kami and Michael get not one, but TWO wedding anniversary days. Why? Mike is Christian and Kami is Hindu, so they had two separate wedding ceremonies across two separate days. If you’re like me, your first question is, “So did you get to have TWO wedding dresses?!”

And yes, she did.

To celebrate their FIFTEEN YEAR anniversary (er, anniversaries) Kami went all out with another gorgeous dress. "Go casual, go fancy, or anywhere in between!" is my standard advice for clients. But like.... IT IS SO FUN when they choose fancy. Because the truth is that the typical adult doesn’t have a whole lot of occasions for a floor length dress once the wedding is over and that is just the saddest thing.

“It hasn't been easy, health and family weren't too kind to us but here we are 3 kids, a mortgage, and 15 years later stronger than ever. I'd like to think that the worst is behind us.” - Kami

LANEY+BRIGHAM | the day I stopped shooting at golden hour
INSPIRED BY GRANDMA | Grandma Kaiser and the nudists


DEIRDRE+JASON | when the wildflower mountaintop gives you decision paralysis


DEIRDRE+JASON | when the wildflower mountaintop gives you decision paralysis


I have decision paralysis. Like an eight-year-old in a giant candy shop told to "okay, you can pick TWO today" I feel completely overwhelmed when a gorgeous photo location is plopped in front of me. I end up spinning around on my heels looking at every gorgeous nook and cranny of this place without an OUNCE of direction in my heart or brain to decide where to pose my client. THERE'S JUST TOO MANY OPTIONS!!!

So, imagine my internal thinking when given the chance to shoot (1) on a mountaintop (2) at sunset (3) where there are miles and miles of white aspen groves (4) with the prettiest Southern girl and her dapper husband (5) who are also photographers themselves so they are like WAY photogenic and need very little direction or posing so basically a dream scenario (6) and it's freaking WILDFLOWER SEASON!!? 

Luckily, this wasn't my first rodeo with photo shoot location decision paralysis caused by a situation SO good that my brain goes mushy. Over the years I've been in this boat and I'm finally figuring out how to conquer such a potentially fatal paralysis. Read on!

1. When possible, scope out a location on your own in advance! 

I think I have photo location FOMO. Like WHAT IF there was a freaking gorgeous overlook with a waterfall and a unicorn JUST around the corner but I didn't know because I didn't check?!? If the shoot is planned for somewhere I've never been, I'll take myself on a drive over there and blast some Tay music and/or drag my husband along so he can inevitably get super bored and beg to go home. If that's not practical, ideally I'll arrive the day of with a hefty chunk of time before my client so that I can explore. Honestly guys, I've arrived at locations OVER AN HOUR early! And I've never regretted it.

2. Can't scope it out in advance? Head out with your clients and walk walk WALK through your location before picking up the camera. 

This shoot with Deirdre and Jason was kinda like that - they had been before and knew the best spots (praise them!) because they are also photographers but I made sure that we walked to the furthest point first so I could see it all and take it in. About 15 minutes down the path, I had seen plenty of great options so we stopped walking and started shooting. From there we worked our way backwards so that we finished the shoot right back at the car. I literally have reoccurring nightmares about the sun setting before I'm done (or even started??) taking pictures, sooooo anything to comfort me concerning time, distance, and location options is a must.

PS - That tip a win win! If you've never met your clients face-to-face before, walking around before picking up the camera is a great time to get to know each other and relax before pictures start!! I purposefully plan that EVERY session starts with at least a few minutes of walking before we're at our first spot.

3. Have a "thing" for each spot.

Early on as a photographer, I'd take my clients to each spot at a given location and.... it would go like this.
*By a blooming hydrangea bush* "Look at me and smile.. okay, now look at each other."
*Under the weeping willow tree* "Look at me and smile.. okay, now look at each other."
*Along a cobblestone path* "Look at me and smile.. okay, now look at each other."

Yeah. As I'd look through all the photos later that night, it was SO BORING. I still wanna get those "look at me and smile" shots from time to time, but now I mentally think of one main OTHER DIFFERENT THING to do at each new little spot. Drastically change the focal length (switch your lens), do a completely different pose, add some fun game or movement to the moment, different angle, step way far back for a super wide shot, whatever! Your final gallery of photos will be so so so much better off.

4. Lastly, less is more. 

One mistake I've made in the past is trying to cram too many pretty spots into a one hour session. We ended up walking (or even worse, DRIVING between spots) more than we spent taking pictures!!!!! Prioritize your favorite scenery (maybe one or two specific spots in a given area) and keep a mental back up for another fave if time allows. 

You gotta slow. it. down. Breathe. Stop worrying about the scenery so much and get creative in the other ways that matter even more - really talk with your clients as you shoot, take the time to really get THE SHOT you're envisioning, push yourself to try new things and get creative in other ways! Don't just rely on a change of scenery to keep the pictures interesting.

This is something I really took to heart after our own five-year-anniversary pictures with Sami Jo Photography. Our entire hour long shoot was only in a circumference of like... 200 feet maybe. Lo and behold, in those 200 feet from our shoot with Sami, I LOVE every single picture! I would NEVER look at them and say, "Ugh! Too much of the same background!" because guess what... I care a lot more about the faces in the foreground (code = our faces).

I could tell you countless more of my "trial and error" experiences over the years, but let's just stick with those four things for now, because I think you may just be here to gush over these wildflower pictures. ;)