Lake Pleasant Wedding with Miranda & JJ

It is always “wedding season” in sunny Arizona. Whether it’s December or June, brides get to choose the most stunning locations around the state for their special day.

The day started off getting ready at Cibola Vista Resort in Peoria, AZ.

The beautiful breezeways and courtyards helped tell the story of first looks and portraits.



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Then, Miranda & JJ gathered their closest family and friends to have their wedding ceremony and reception on Lake Pleasant at sunset. Outdoor weddings have a special magic when vows and first dances are done in the warmth of sunshine. Throw in the deep blue of the lake, and top it with the stunning desert landscape sparkling in the golden light. It was just gorgeous.


Miranda & JJ’s wedding was booked through Lake Pleasant Cruises


Arizona Wedding: Bri & Anthony


This Arizona wedding dazzled with the beautiful stained glass of Valley View Bible Church while providing guests with the warmth of sunshine in the desert surroundings. It was the perfect combination of a gorgeous traditional venue with a modern spirit.

Every wedding story is special in its own way, but this was hands down, the most celebrated and joyful event I’ve ever attended. I truly enjoyed every minute.

Most churches in Arizona are modern in their design, so to find ourselves surrounded by stained glass that lit up in the afternoon sun was a special treat. Wrapped in color and warmth, the guests packed the pews to support these two people as they started a new life together. It was breath taking.



The church is nestled in the Paradise Valley mountains and desert for wide sweeping backgrounds true to Arizona’s reputation. However, the courtyard at the church was home to magnificent, old trees where the formal portraits were taken among the gigantic roots with golden rays shining through the branches. A fitting place for joining “family trees” and growing new roots.




As beautiful and classy as this wedding was, the guests and wedding party were so much fun!  They kept it light and fun and joyful.


See more of Colette’s work by visiting her website:



benedictions and bad business

As 2019 wrapped up, I realized that the shift in my business model toward some community projects which didn’t produce a pay check left me staring at charts and numbers which hinted toward losses and chuckled at my “profitability.” I didn’t need an official tally to predict a year in the red.


Another 2019 observation is I found podcasts! Podcasts make all the mundane feel fun (even doing grim financials), because I get lost in new ideas and inspiring thoughts from people I don’t even personally know but really admire. I don’t mind the hours in the car as a mom-taxi driver anymore, and my editing time slips away easier while I gulp down the fresh waters exciting podcast voices and mentors.

One of my favorite podcasts is hosted by Jen Hatmaker. She recently invited the insightful and fearless Nadia Bolz Weber who is never afraid to pull back the curtain  from any ‘leader of Oz,’ making her both loved and loathed in religious circles. Nadia is from a tradition that blesses with benedictions. Benedictions are new to me as I start to dip a toe into non-evangelical pools. The idea of someone writing and saying a blessing over another is an intimate and gracious thing I think we should all start doing … in churches, in grocery stores, in doctor’s offices, in gas stations, and anywhere a person needs both connection and grace. Anyway, I love a thoughtfully written benediction.

I was finishing up a session finance sheet from December, when the end of the podcast played, and Nadia’s voice started reading a long list of “blessed is the _________” which included the marginalized and the struggling … then she said something that made my breath catch and my heart pause:

“Blessed are those who make ‘terrible business decisions’ … for the sake of people.”

All at once, I realized the most valuable moments of my business this year will not show up in the profit column. The moments I met families in dimly lit hospital rooms on the worst day of their lives. The moments new people enriched my life, simply because God put a camera in my hand and told me to show up. The moments my extremely narrow vision opened up like a divine wide-angle lens, because an unexpected stranger crossed my path.  The moments of joy which were draped over my camera like wrapping paper on a very special present.

The moments that proved to me over and over again that community is
and necessary
and life-giving.


I started feeling like the richest person on earth.
Not because I have something to show for my business’ bank account,
but because some treasures are much more valuable.

create your own

When I was preparing for a presentation a few months ago, I was searching for a good photography quote, but couldn’t find one that matched my theme. I was super frustrated, and Alexa nonchalantly said, “Just write your own quote.”
At first I chuckled, and then I paused.
Of course, I could write my own.
And then I did.
It made me think about the fact that I come from a long line of creative people. My grandma did artwork for Child Evangelism and quilted beautiful heirlooms. Both my parents painted. My mother is the most creative, resourceful person I know; she can fix ANYTHING. My brother is a master of written and spoken word. I learned from watching. I’m glad my daughter seems to also be picking up the idea to create what we are missing in the world … and reminding me to do it too when I forget. 💙
Photo Credit: Cecil W. Stoughton, presidential photographer for JFK  (Life Magazine)

tips for her senior session

So you are graduating! You want a stunning senior session, but you aren’t quite sure how to prepare. Here are 5 simple ways to get the images you want …


webmym_0292ch1) Bring clothing you love and feel confident wearing …
and bring multiple outfits for variety.

Photographers used to tell clients to wear “solids” or classic styles that don’t change,
but I disagree!

Wear the things that scream: YOU!
Wearing trends and styles you love will help tell the story of you, right now … in the year you graduated and took on the world.

(Don’t be afraid to add a fun pop with the details. We can get stunning and we can get sassy all in the same session)



winstamym_03582) Play around with hairstyles before the session, but sometimes your confident best is a hairstyle you do everyday. There are no rules, just do what makes you feel pretty and bold.

Some girls like to schedule a hair appointment the morning of their session to be sure to get the desired look, but try not to get a wild new cut too close to your session date.

Depending on the style of your session, you may even plan for hair pieces and accessories to complete the overall feel of the image.





wgmym_0202c3) Simple “props” that describe you can personalize a session.

This senior loved sunflowers, and she brought a bunch to the shoot. Other sessions I have done included salon tools for a senior who was going into cosmetology, a family pet for a senior who was pursuing a career as a veterinarian assistant, a guitar for a senior who loved music, and a college t-shirt to show where the senior was headed.

Almost anything goes! What tells the story of you?




4) Hats, watches, and jewelry are great ways to give your images variety.

Paying attention to the details gives a finished look that makes a big difference in your gallery. Be sure to do your nails (either no polish at all or a fresh manicure), and take those elastic hair ties off your wrists before the session!

It’s the little things.



5) Believe it or not, beauty sleep is not a myth! Try to get a full night of sleep the night before your session.

Trust me; your eyes will look brighter and happier when you are well rested.




Visit for more information about Senior Sessions


bees & behind the scenes

Instagram vs. Real Life


Can we talk real life please? Yes. Me. The photographer who knows how to make four droopy rows of tired sunflowers look like fields of gold grown just for the illusion of instagram. I know every girl, young and old, wants a sunflower session with handfuls of heart-shaped sunflare and blue skies draped over perfect smiles and sun-kissed cheeks.

I know how to make that happen, but I also know the reality of creating those images …


So, let’s break it down. Here’s the dirty little details…

Take a deep breath. There were bees. LOTS OF BEES! We had to get up close and personal with bees on our hair and bees on our clothes and bees dive-bombing our FACES. Yes, fuzzy little legs TOUCHED MY FACE.

Here is the proof. Take this cute, little guy and multiply him by the number of sunflowers you see, because well that’s what they were there to do and no instagram mission was going to make them stand down.

If you are still with me, the next challenge we had was the very small patch of actual sunflowers. While this next image may look like miles and miles of sunflower bliss.
It. was. not.


Here’s where the photo magic starts and ends. This was actually a couple of rows of sunflowers in front of CORN FIELDS. Your eye doesn’t really detect where the flowers end and the corn begins, but gold is gold I guess. Instagram illusion win!

Ready for another reality smack? The few rows of sunflowers take a bit of editing to look insta-worthy. Here’s what we were really dealing with. Close-ups and blurred backgrounds were our friend! (notice how I am not watermarking this next photo?! ugly. just ugly!)


There was only one direction I could take these photos. The other direction? Wellllllll, if you look closely back there we have a gazillion cows, and while I’m hoping it’s a humane dairy farm with fairies and unicorns, I’m just not really certain what they are actually waiting for?? So not cool when you are photographing cute vegetarian teen girls who are horrified at the possibilities of that background. Eh-hem, moving on. (or mooooo-ving on?)

Next challenge: PEOPLE. Everywhere, people and more people. Other photographers, kids, parents, all running around a narrow row of flowers and trying to stay out of each other’s selfies but just looking like floating heads in a sunlit crop … kinda sounds like a movie. So PHOTOSHOP away dear photographer! Or just shout, “spin-move!” and attempt to block out most of the creepers back there, because I like sleep more than I like my editing software in the still of the night.


So, why do it?
Why try to make the impossible possible?
Why fight the hassle and edit until your computer wants to crash?

Good questions.
Because this girl will only be 15-years-old once, and a sunflower session with her bestie is something that builds a memory. A sunflower patch is not for the faint of heart nor does it work for most clients, but we will never forget
snuggling with bees,
worrying about cows,
or finding those insta-perfect poses …
with giggles and warm sunshine on our faces.

That’s the true, real life magic of a camera:
it keeps this memory forever in my heart.


To see more of Colette’s art, visit

Father’s Day


This may be my favorite “Picture in Fathering” of all time,
because encouragement in defeat
is just as valuable
as praise in victory.

With time, the failure or the accomplishment fades away,
but the way your dad spoke into your life remains forever.

So, to all the father’s out there who are present
to pick them up and put them on your shoulders
in both the hard times and the good times,
Happy Father’s Day.

These moments are truly the trophies of life.