Shooting My First Wedding


It is already a month ago that I drove myself out into the mountains to photograph the wedding of an long-time friend of mine. Well, okay, Ryan drove and I worked on my breathing. But now the photos are edited, signed, sealed, delivered and I can finally share them with the world!

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I went through such a roller coaster of emotions from the time I signed on as the photographer for this wedding to the time I handed over the final images. First I was super excited. Then panic set in. Then a frenzy of research and the pressure seemed to subside. The nervousness waxed and waned up until the wedding day, and then it was time to just see what I was made of.

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I think I rose to the challenge. In the end, I delivered a set of photographs I was proud of, and that I knew the bride and groom would really appreciate. While I worked harder on this than any other photography project I’ve had in the past, I wholeheartedly would love to do it again. And again. This could become a thing, in fact.

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There was a lot to learn as I went along. Wedding photography is definitely one of those challenging things you need to do before you know how to do it, and now that I’ve done it, I’m itching for the chance to do it again, only even better this time.

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Notes to self for next time:

People will get in your way. This seems somewhat obvious, I know. I mean, obviously weddings are filled with lots of people who are going to mill around and not consider that they’re getting into the photographer’s shot. I knew that. I was just somewhat unprepared the first time around for just how often and how difficult it would be!

Don’t worry about getting into other people’s way. Call me timid, but I just don’t like blocking people’s views of things like the toast or cutting of the cake. I tormented myself trying to finesse a balance between getting the shots I needed and being that annoying person blocking the view. Not that I’m going to just stand in people’s way all the time next time, but I don’t think anyone would fault me for lingering there a little longer to get my shots. It’s what I’m there for, after all.

You’ve got to be fast, and you’ve got to have a system. Not every wedding will have the photographs set as high on a list of priorities as I would have. As much as I’d love to take the whole day to capture the wedding party and the bride and groom portraits, in reality I may have only a matter of minutes. That makes having a real game plan essential. Which brings me to the next point.

Don’t be afraid of being bossy. Chances are, most of the people in a wedding won’t know what’s going on or what they should be doing or how they can help make things run more smoothly. Instead of feeling out of control because no one is ready yet, or passively following along with the flow, take charge! It’s actually comforting for the bride and groom to see you know what to do–even if it means telling them to “get more in the shade” 800 times :)

You actually can take too many photos. If you know you got the shot, move on. This is not to say to be lazy and not try for different angles and poses of the same thing, but taking ten shots of the same exact thing just makes future Delia hate you as she has to filter through them all. Also, if there is a down moment, there is no shame in taking a breather and not feeling obligated to snap random shots you know you probably won’t use, anyway. It’s harder than it seems, keeping that finger off the trigger!

Things like this really can only be learned through firsthand experience. Sure, I knew what to expect as far as the wedding schedule, and I knew what to do as far as getting all the proper moments and details, but it’s more than that. I hope this may help some other budding photographers out there, and I hope you like the photos! Check out my photography blog to see more! If you’re in Albuquerque, or the New Mexico area, and need photography done, shoot me an email! Let’s work together :) (Shameless plug.)

Do you have any tips to add? What is something you’ve dreamed of and then done for the first time?

love always, Delia

Drawing with Sparklers for America’s Birthday

USA sparkler writing

Well, the three day weekend celebrating America’s Birthday is now behind us, and we are left again with a five day work week. Usually, the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays, a great excuse for a gathering of friends around a pool and barbeque, to inevitably be rained on as the sun sets and the fireworks are prepared for takeoff all around town. But, almost none of this happened this year. The few friends we seem to have left in town were scattered among different events, and so there was no gathering at the Kearney pool, no swimming, and no barbeque.

There also happened to be no rain, which you usually might consider to be a good thing, but I often love when it rains for the Fourth. For one, when you live in the New Mexico desert, the knowledge that the ground is wetter than usual sets your mind at ease when it comes to watching and playing with fireworks. For two, the monsoons in New Mexico often also mean incredible lightning storms, which can make for a really awesome display when coupled with the fireworks. Imagine something like this:

Fourth of July lightning storm 2013

Nonetheless, the end of my Fourth of July night was complete when I got to play with sparklers and my camera. Sparklers are always a necessity for the holiday, and this year I made my mind to finally try my hand at those trendy light drawing photos. Best idea of the day.

"Delia" sparkler writing

Look at that beautiful cursive.

It was actually quite easy to put together, and so worth the play time. The steps:

1. Set my trusty Canon DSLR on a tripod.
2. On manual mode, set the aperture to a solid 7.1, ISO 400, and shutter speed to BULB mode (you may need or want to adjust these settings for your own purposes.)
3. Send the husband to make shapes with sparklers. Hold the shutter button down as he starts a shape, then release it as he finishes the shape (this is what BULB mode allows you to do.)
4. Trade places with him so that I can play.
5. Set the camera to a self-timer (changing shutter speed to about 2 seconds), to take 10 shots in a row, so that we can play together.

drawing with sparklers

drawing stars with sparklers

We also experimented with leaving the porch lights on and off, to get ourselves more lit up in the shots versus leave ourselves pretty much out of the shots.

sparkler kisses

And obviously we had to keep a couple with us staying still for the camera. Don’t you love how Wally is staring right at the camera, below? Ryan and I couldn’t stop laughing when we saw these. Let me remind you, there is not a person behind the lens there. He’s just the world’s most photogenic dog, I’m telling you.

fourth of july sparklers

So easy, and I’m loving these new additions to my hard drive.

Did you do anything special for your holiday? Have you ever tried your hand at sparkler/light-drawing photos?

love always, Delia

Snapshots of a Weekend at the Grand Canyon

So, I went to one of the Seven Wonders of the World a few of weeks ago. I camped out there with eight of my best friends, all joined together from three different states to celebrate one friend’s birthday. I know, I know. That’s pretty amazing, so why didn’t I share about it sooner? I’m super overdue.

viewing the grand canyon

Sometimes I feel like if I try and write about something too soon after it happens, it’ll ruin the memory. If something is too fresh, I don’t remember it all clearly enough, and if I write down the too fresh to be clear memory, that’s all I’ll remember it as. Or at least that’s how it feels.

Grand Canyon group, Bright Angel Trail

But then there are times when I just need to write everything down as soon as I can, in case time snatches the memory away from me. I spent a large part of my honeymoon writing down everything I could remember from the wedding and the days leading up to it.

group at the Grand Canyon

I’m not sure anymore where I was going with that. But that did happen. It’s the little moments like these that I worry would fade into the land of the forgotten if I wasn’t able to write them down:

  • Driving right past a sleeping elk buck on our way to our campsite, and being baffled as to why no one else around seemed to be as fascinated.
  • Arriving at the campsite to find that Amy already managed to make sangria and iced tea.
  • Watching all four boys try to set up one tent made for a truck bed.
  • Our campsite neighbor who snored like a bear. All night. All weekend long.
  • Waking up to the morning light at 6am and thinking that wasn’t totally abnormal—though the amount of light at such an hour seemed unsettling.
  • Needing sweaters in the early hours of the day and upon nightfall, but shedding the layers to survive the desert heat during the day.
  • Asking a volunteer forest ranger about his trail recommendations and coming to the understanding that he thought we would be dead within an hour by the looks of us.
  • That Asian tourist we didn’t know who we caught taking a photo of us posing for a photo.
  • The squirrels on the trail that quite nearly attacked us for our food.
  • The gigantic crows that really did eat our food.
  • The gloriousness of an eight minute shower following the dustiest, sweatiest hike ever.

dusty shoes at the Grand Canyon

  • The vodka-infused watermelon I didn’t bother to try.
  • Eating s’mores while having secret conversations.
  • Calling ourselves “forever friends.”
  • Spreading the knowledge of Nerts.
  • Playing the most hardcore game of Scattergories.
  • Calling myself one of the Kearneys in a friends setting.
  • Almost missing the sunset, but making it there just in time.

at the Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trailhead

Even though camping is exhausting, I love getting to get away from everything with my best friends. It’s the best kind of quality time there is. There are no phones to distract you. There is no place else you feel you need to be.

What are your camping stories? Or any other stories of traveling with friends? They may be my favorite kind of stories.

love always, Delia

Celebrating the Solstice

Until this year, I don’t know that I often thought twice about the summer solstice. The 21st of June would come, and I’d think, huh, today’s the longest day of the year, and I guess now it’s officially summer, and that would be it. I don’t know if I thought of it differently this year because it fell on a Saturday, or because my lifestyle now as a married, employed, apartment-dwelling person is so different from my student lifestyle.

picking peaches

picking peaches

There are many aspects of life that change when you make the switch from full time student to full time employee. Your schedule moves from one in constant flux to one that is just constant. No longer can you binge on Netflix through early hours of the morning because functioning for eight hours at work the next day is an utter necessity. The precious hours following the long work days are filled with making dinner and taking care of errands and chores, and perhaps an episode of a show or two. A summer break is lost to the daily grind, and the hours of sunlight and quality of weather seem to have an increased effect on your quality of mood.

picking peaches on the solstice

portrait of laughter

Realizing this puts into perspective the things that truly bring you happiness. I did not realize how important warm weather, hours of sunshine, and time spent outside were to my happiness until they were less easy to come by than they were living the student life in Southern California. Now that I must wake up before seven every day, I remember how much easier it is when the sun is already up, and now that most of my days are spent inside an office, I realize how much energy I sustain when I feel that there is still time to be had out in the sunshine after I get off work.

happy smile

Danny portrait

I’ve come to recognize how important it is to consciously draw on these opportunities to increase my own happiness. Just because I now have a full time job to attend to during the summer months does not mean I must forgo all the things about summer I hold dear. I decided to seize this year’s solstice as an opportunity to celebrate summer for what it still means to me now, and to show myself that it is still that special time of year that somehow feels more relaxed and full of opportunity.

summer solstice lounging

beagle belly

power point

Matt’s signature “power point.”

I spent most of the day outside with friends and my camera. We went to a park, then to the patio and poolside at Ryan’s parents’ house, where I picked peaches and served up barbeque chicken and orzo with zucchini as the sun went down. Then, we built a fire and had apple pie a la mode. While I often get frustrated at not having a yard or patio of our own, I feel lucky that even though my in-laws have moved back to Seattle, we are still able to use their beautiful yard, patio, pool, and fire pit to settle my impatience. It was a blessed day, and I’m glad I have these photo reminders of what is really important to me and my happiness, and of the wonder that is still to be had in the summer months.

bbq chicken and orzo

begging beagle

You would think he was being starved.

There is just something I love about the summer photos I take in the backyard of Kearney Palace, as I’ve just decided I’ll call it. They radiate happiness to me.

What little things make you happy that maybe you didn’t think about before?

love always, Delia

Nothing But Blooms

My last post was a little rant-y. Don’t worry, that isn’t too typical for me. Well, it can be, but usually I just keep it down to a single breathless rant to my husband and then get over it. But these were some thoughts I really needed to be able to write out to even make sense of what I was thinking, and once they were written, well, I just couldn’t help but post them on my corner of the web. It’s what happens when you start to write about writing.

But let’s end the week on a lighter note! Linking up with This Analog Adventure and Click. Pray. Create. for Photography Friday & Finding Beauty Friday, as usual, I find that I must share some of my latest and greatest photos with you.

These happen to celebrate the beauty that is spring :)

spring flowers outside my window

While being in New Mexico, I often think of spring as that horrid time of year when the winds rival hurricanes’ and my allergies go crazy, I must admit: the blooms that pop up every which way are a sight to see.

Ryan and I are feeling particularly lucky this spring, because it turns out that the tree we have right outside our apartment windows erupts in full bloom in the spring season. It is gorgeous. The buds start out pink, and then open up into lovely white blossoms that absolutely cover the branches. I asked Ryan yesterday if it could ever be possible for the blooms to stick around all year long. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair, and the petals have just begun to fall not quite three weeks after the buds first began to appear. However, I will just be glad that we were lucky enough this spring to be blessed with such a beautiful tree.

spring flowers outside my window in NM

NM spring flowers

Did I mention that this tree happens to spread across both of the windows in our apartment? Did I mention that it is literally covered in the blossoms?

sunrise through the flowers outside my window

Looking out our window is like looking into heaven. We feel like we’re living in a cloud of florals. There is nothing but blooms to see out our windows right now. And I can’t get enough of it.

apartment view of flowers and Sandia Mountains apartment view of flowers and Sandia Mountains

Just check out that view from those windows! (The first is of the tree just as it’s starting to bloom, and the second is the tree in full bloom.) And BONUS: these beautiful flowers don’t seem to heighten my allergies!

K I’m done raving now :)

Are you experiencing any lovely signs of spring lately?

love always, Delia

Golden Life

Happy Friday!

I meant to do this post for last Friday’s photography post, and then I also meant to have it done for this morning, but alas, no such luck. Best laid plans, amiright? At least this way I’m already off work, and truly just kicking off the weekend with some great photos to share!

Shooting portraits was the last assignment of the photography class I finished up about a week ago. I really wanted to make use of the gorgeous golden hour light we’ve been experiencing around these parts lately–and I’m super pleased with the results! You really can do no wrong with the beautiful light in the golden hour :)

A man with his dog - the golden hour

Golden hour portrait

Facing the sun in the golden hour

In case you’re wondering, the golden hour is that magical time of day when the sun is so close to the horizon that it makes the whole world seem lit up in gold. It varies from place to place and season to season, but generally, you’ll find this lovely light around an hour before sundown and about an hour after the sun rises. I could go on quite a bit about this wonderful phenomenon–so I think I just might save that for another post!

Golden hour portrait

What do you think of that warmth to photos that the golden hour gives? Are you as obsessed as I am? Here’s hoping I have many new portraits to share again soon :)

And with that, I bid you a good weekend.

Linking up with:

Dear Harper

love always, Delia

Reviewing the Basics

One of my goals for this year was to take a few photography classes. I wanted to take an opportunity to really be able to fine tune my skills and knowledge of photography, and also to just help motivate myself to keep going out there taking photographs and gain as much experience as possible. Welp, this is the big update:

I’ve just finished the first class, which was a photography composition class. I’m also currently in the middle of my second class, which is called Using Natural Light, but its name is deceiving, as I’ve found it to cover an incredibly wide range of topics for just a three week course.

rock framed in drain pipe

The most important thing that I’ve learned so far is that everything can have a lesson for you.

I wasn’t sure of what to expect going into these classes. I wasn’t sure if continuing education classes would be filled more with hobbyists or people looking to take their work more seriously. I wasn’t sure if I would have the most experience out of all my classmates, or the least. I wasn’t sure if I might be wasting my time. But, I figured, it couldn’t hurt to try; and it especially doesn’t hurt that one of the best benefits of my job gives me free tuition to any classes through the university. So I dove in. And I’m so glad I did.

First of all, one can never be too conscious of the basics in any field of one’s interest. While I have previously learned the essentials of ISO, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, focus, camera shake, and the rule of thirds, I never, ever feel that reviewing this information is a waste of time. There are always little details that you forget, or maybe even never thought about before, until someone new came along and introduced them to you.

ducks at fountain   ducks at fountain

Moreover, I have come to the conclusion that part of why you are able to learn so much while taking multiple classes in high school or college of any degree, is because you are approaching similar topics from different angles, with different instructors, and sometimes, these topics and angles will overlap. That overlap is what really solidifies a concept—at least for me. So, going over the rule of thirds in the composition class reintroduced that consciousness in me; touching on the same topic in the natural light class really drove home to me how important a conscious composition is to a great photograph. I am so glad that I decided to go for it and sign up for two classes at once!

UNM Zimmerman Library tower of books

That is what I’ve enjoyed learning the most. Learning to recognize what differentiates between an inexperienced snapshot and a thoughtful, purposefully composed image. So many times, people look at the images in a professional photographer’s portfolio and wonder, how do they do that? How do they make such a simple thing just “pop”? How do they get that effect? How can I do that?

There are so many considerations that a professional photographer must keep in mind when composing his or her photos. Would this image be more engaging with an out of focus background? Should this water be caught in still motion, or in a blur? Where is the optimal place in the frame for this subject? How can I get rid of that ugly distraction in the background? How can post-production editing render this image into something that really “pops” and screams professional art?

Now that I have the advice and insight from two different commercial photographers as my instructors, I feel that much more knowledgeable about how to approach my own photographic work with the care of a professional. I’ve relearned how to consciously use the shutter speed and aperture to my advantage. I’ve relearned the rule of thirds. I’ve studied photographs and learned how to decide what would make them better, whether in their composition or in their post-production. I’ve seen that most often, what would make them better, is getting rid of excess information in the image–like that truck hanging out over there at the edge of the frame, or that pile of whatever it is chilling just behind the photograph’s true subject.

splash of water in black and white   splash of blue water

The photos in this post were all taken with my Natural Light photography class. None of them are perfect, by any means. But I am so proud of them, because I know how much extra care I took when creating them. I experimented. I learned. And I know that with my newfound awareness, I will be approaching all of my future work with extra care. My next assignment will be taking portraits, and the next class I am taking will be a class devoted to photographing people, so you can bet I’m excited to keep up with my learning. Hope you care to keep up with me on my learning–it’s good motivation!

What have you learned when reviewing the basics in whatever you do? If you haven’t done so in awhile–go do it! And report back :)

love always, Delia

Snow Days in Albuquerque // Introducing My Logo!

Last Wednesday night, Albuquerque finally, happily, received some more snow. We felt like we’d been missing out all winter. Not that I was complaining all too much about the unusually warm temperatures we’ve been having this season, but it seemed quite strange that other places unused to snow altogether were having some, and we were bone dry. Ryan and I had been very hopeful for a wet winter season because November saw a lot of snow by our standards, BUT, we had nothing….until last Wednesday!

We watched the snow fall steadily down as we went to bed Wednesday night, and by the looks of the streets, we were sure that our wish for a university delay in the morning would be granted. Luckily, it sure was, and I took the opportunity to take some lovely photos at my high school, the Albuquerque Academy, with my extra time in the morning!

Albuquerque Academy winter

Albuquerque Academy winter

I just love the Academy’s campus. It is more gorgeous and expansive than many college campuses I’ve seen, and when it’s tucked under a blanket of snow, it truly feels timeless. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to snap some shots of my beloved campus in such winter elements.

Albuquerque Academy winter

Albuquerque Academy winter

As you can see, I went with black and white on most of these shots. I really wanted to portray that feeling of timelessness that I get just looking around at the snowy Academy campus, and I figured that the scenery was mostly black and white anyway, so I might as well accentuate that. The exceptions were the shots where I just loved the red brick of the pathway and buildings too much to hide it.

Albuquerque Academy winter

Albuquerque Academy winter

Albuquerque Academy winter

Albuquerque Academy winter

I had way too much fun with these. And…did you notice?! I’ve just created myself a new logo and watermark! I’ve been keeping busy :)

In all honesty though, I am so excited to show off the new logo. I’m quite in love with it. I hope you are, too. And, I hope you are enjoying your winter as much as I am.

love always, Delia

Day Trip to Santa Fe

This Saturday Ryan and I took a little day jaunt up to Santa Fe, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to get back into practice with my camera! I thought I’d share some of my favorites of the day on the blog here.

Santa Fe blue gate

Santa Fe Ristra

Santa Fe archway

Santa Fe cathedral

New Mexican food

New Mexico sunset

New Mexico sunset

I think my favorite photo of the day was actually of the food, which, if you know me at all, would probably not surprise you very much. I love food, and I love taking pictures of a beautiful arrangement of food! This particular plate was from the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, near the Santa Fe Plaza, and it was as delicious as it looks. We actually had a peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert that was just as beautiful AND delicious, but I think we just scarfed it down too fast for me to think of whipping out my camera for that one. Oh well!

It was great to get the practice in. I decided to go fully manual when shooting, for extra practice. The only photos I snapped with automatic settings were of the sunset, and that was because we were driving back to Albuquerque and it was one of those moments where the view was so beautiful, I just had to snap it as soon as possible before it disappeared!

It had been so long since I’d really taken the time to shoot fully manually, I’d forgotten how long it can take to set up a good shot! I’m hoping soon, with more similar practice, I’ll get better at this though. If any readers have any camera tips, please feel free to share!

I think that’s all for now! I hope you enjoy the pictures. As always, you can check out more of my photography work on my Flickr stream!

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