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

Reasons to Go to Cabo on Your Honeymoon

A little over a year ago, I was unwinding by the side of a pool and the Pacific Ocean, simultaneously, during what was arguably the best week of my life (aside from my actual wedding week.) Lately, I’ve been pining pretty heavily to go back there.

Cabo Arc

I knew that a tropical honeymoon was going to be a top priority expense when we began planning our wedding. It went: photography, honeymoon, and then everything else. I know that may not be prioritization for everyone, but for us, it made the most sense, and I am so glad we were able to recognize that.

See, Ryan and I love to travel together. We love getting to explore new places and share new experiences. And, until our honeymoon, we’d actually never truly been on a trip where it was just the two of us. We’d made trips with family and friends, or traveled alone together to stay primarily with family and friends, but we’d never gone more than a day and a half in our own hotel room together, with no one’s itinerary for the day but our own. I couldn’t wait.

It took a while to settle on the actual location for our honeymoon. I wanted somewhere tropical because I wanted nothing more than to lounge on the beach to my heart’s content. I didn’t want to go somewhere where I’d want to go out and see a ton of things because I wanted our honeymoon to be a time of rejuvenation after the stress of the wedding, and a time of relaxed bonding during our first days of marriage. And, Ryan seemed pretty okay with wherever I wanted to go.

Cabo rocks

Eventually, we decided on Cabo, partially because it was one of the cheapest of all the places I was looking to travel to, and partially because it just seemed so charming. And I could not be happier with our choice. Thus, I bring you the list:

1) When you arrive at your hotel and mention that you are on your honeymoon, you just might be upgraded to the larger, fancier, more expensive sister resort, at no extra charge.

2) Your room may just have the perfect view of fancy hotel pools and the ocean. It also may rival the fanciest of hotel rooms you have stayed in.

ocean view from La Playa Grande room

3) You will fully embrace the lack of ability for anyone to contact you, sans phone service.

4) You’ll get to have the absolute best view for brunch, ever. Also, brunch is buffet-style, and contains all the greats. Chilaquiles and black beans and chocolate conchas and Mexican coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice (and I could keep going.) They will all grace your taste buds.

brunch at La Playa Grande in Cabo San Lucas

brunch at La Playa Grande in Cabo San Lucas

The best view for brunch.

5) Everywhere you go, the locals will all ask you if you are on your honeymoon. “Honeymooners!” they will say. “Do you know how I know you’re honeymooners? She looks very happy, and he looks tired.” This is apparently the standard greeting around the markets, but it makes it no less charming when you are actually basking in the fact you are on your honeymoon.

6) Your hotel may host nightly fiestas with prime entertainment and even better Mexican food.

7) You’ll be able to lounge by the pool and get your tan on like it’s your job. And when you get hungry or thirsty, someone will gladly bring you a margarita and some tacos. All included.

Poolside service in Cabo.

The hard life.

8) You’ll get to walk into town and go on adventures in a glass-bottom boat, or snorkeling, or swimming with dolphins.

Life jackets

snorkeling in Cabo
9) You might become involved in a dance competition on your snorkel expedition boat.

10) You’ll get to watch your new husband haggle prices in Spanish. (Or maybe that one might just be reserved for me.)

11) You’ll get to buy matching fedoras, and be super adorable like that.

Honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas

12) Finally, your elevator might be very informative and have a British accent.

There you have it. So, see you there tomorrow?

*I feel that I should add a couple of notes (because I clearly haven’t gone on long enough): keep in mind that if you want to swim in the ocean water, you have to do it on the bay side, not the Pacific side. “Lover’s Beach” is where many people enjoy to swim. Also, if you are running along the hot sand at Lover’s Beach, beware of sharp rocks of sandstone hiding below, or else you’ll end up like my husband, with a gash on the bottom of his foot that was bleeding so much I thought our honeymoon would turn into a Mexican hospital adventure. Finally, in case you’re curious, we stayed at La Playa Grande in Cabo San Lucas.

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.

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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

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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

Wait, it’s June already?!

Looking across the Grand Canyon

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve been around these parts. I could say that I feel bad that I haven’t even logged into my WordPress account in about two weeks, but frankly, that would be a lie. It’s pretty easy to swallow that twinge of guilt when I think about how happy I’ve been to just live the crazy life that’s been my reality the past several weeks, without concerning myself with writing it down. And hey, it’s my blog, and I can do what I want to. (Cue Lesley Gore.)

I realized this morning that it was the first time in about six weeks that Ryan and I were able to sleep in and enjoy a plan-less Saturday together. Slightly mind-boggling, and only further proof to myself that it’s okay to let certain things slip when the schedule gets a little hairy.

Grand Canyon at sunset.

It is already a month ago that I went to my high school reunion and my in-laws moved back to Seattle. It is already nearly two weeks since I got back from my jaunt to New York City. And it has only been a few days since we returned home from the Grand Canyon, but I’m finding it hard to believe we were even there. Time has been such a blur.

You know what makes time blur together even more? When the hours at work are spent scrambling to keep up with the influx of work to do and the pile-ups of paperwork that naturally occur when one is out of the office for five days within two weeks. But now I just sound like I’m making excuses for myself, so forget about all that.

The truth is, May has been a pretty intense month for me. “Has been”? What am I saying? I guess it’s already June 7th. I don’t know how that happened, but what I do know is that this morning, for the first time in weeks, I got to sleep in and eat breakfast at a wonderfully late hour of the morning, while finishing a movie with Ryan. (I couldn’t stay awake for it last night. Such is life for a 23 year old married woman who knows how to party on her Friday nights.) I also got to cleanse the apartment of all the mess that builds up when its two inhabitants have for several weeks been in and out of town and struggling with stomach flus and head colds, as we have.

Ah, home, sweet home. The clutter is in the closets, the carpet freshly vacuumed, and the hard drive christened with new folders containing evidence of my latest, well-photographed adventures. And I finally have a moment to sit here on my couch and process all that has recently been added to my memories. I almost typed that maybe I’ll take this opportunity to finally get back to writing, but look: I already have!

Grand Canyon at sunset.

Sometimes, you really do have to wait patiently for that spare moment before you can fathom all of the twists and turns you just went through. All you can do until then is enjoy the present for whatever is, and not worry about too much else.

I hope you enjoy some of these Grand Canyon photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. Don’t worry, I’ll post more on that soon.

love always, Delia