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May 12, 2018
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Meet Rio. Rio is an energetic, lovable and mild-tempered Portuguese water dog. Rio’s mom teaches at NAU and loves coming home to her best friend every day.

Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,

People who know me often say that I appear more comfortable with animals than I am with people. They are not entirely wrong. Documenting the love between humans and their furry friends through pet photography may just be my favorite thing – ever.

Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,

Because Rio has so much personality, I created this little slide show. It’s something I offer as part of pet photography sessions.

 

About Portuguese Water Dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs come from Algarve – a coastal region in the south of Portugal. Cão de água as the Portuguese Water Dog is known as in Portugal literally translates to “dog of water.”

The dogs are like shepherd dogs. But instead of herding farm animals, they herd fish. The dogs were trained to drive fish into the fishermen’s nets, retrieve broken nets, and act as a courier between ships.

Portuguese Water Dogs rode in fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod.

Portuguese Water Dogs are known for their non-shedding quality and became famous when President and Mrs. Obama adopted two of the breed – Bo and Sunny.

Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,

Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,

Why Portuguese Water Dog Makes Good Pets

Did you know dogs can have a sense of humor? I did. And this breed has a very good one. During their fish-herding days, Portuguese Water Dogs were part of the crew. They ate with the crew, were often paid for their services and spent their free time hanging out with their work families. They are prone to acting silly and will repeat behaviors when their audience laughs.

Of course, Rio embodied these traits which is why his pet photography session was so much fun. It’s also why he was captured so beautifully on the images.

Portuguese Water Dogs are fairly easy to train. Some can have an independent streak, so training early (like with any dog) is the best way to ensure success. They respond to praise and treats. Harsh discipline and voices should be kept to a minimum. Personally, I believe that is true for every animal.

This breed has a desire to please. Use that desire to train this well-tempered, well-behaved beauty.
Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,
Behavioral traits of the Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water dogs are chewers, and while trainable curbing this behavior can be a challenge. They also get very excited when their owner comes home or visitors come to the house. This excitement often turns into jumping or presenting the visitor with a toy or some other object as a gift.

The breed is also known for its separation anxiety. The anxiety is easily addressed with a plethora of chew toys and plenty of exercise before being left alone. The chew toys may just save your furniture or favorite pair of shoes because chewing is how they express anxiety. Dog,Dunstan,Portugese,

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March 24, 2018
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After a few weeks of posts highlighting a personal passion, pet photography and my new offering, Reflections Photo Booth, it’s time to get back to showcasing the beautiful area in which I live.

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed landmarks in desert Southwest surrounding the Grand Canyon. I get excited every time I’m scheduled to head out that way.

Grand Canyon ElopementArizona Elopement Photography

Ivana and Kyle Arrive at Horseshoe Bend in Style

I knew I was going to adore these two when they drove up in a canary yellow 2017 Camero. There’s just something about a muscle car that drives all the girls crazy, don’t you think?

I joked with Kyle and asked him if he got to test the car‘s speed, and he smiled shyly and said it handled pretty good above 110 m.p.h. A man after my own heart, lol. 🙂

Ivana was the sweetest ever and the perfect compliment to Kyle. She looked perfect in her long lace gown with a beauty that reminded me of a young Demi Moore.

Grand Canyon Elopement

Eloping to the Grand Canyon

Kyle works as a police officer in a small community twenty hours north of Toronto and Ivana lives in Toronto proper.

Because our region is just so different from Northern Canada, these two wanted to get married in Las Vegas but do their post-wedding photos at Horseshoe Bend.

For your reference, you can choose to have your elopement ceremony at Horseshoe Bend, or just head to the area for your photos like Kyle and Ivana did.

Arizona Elopement PhotographyGrand Canyon ElopementMany people assume Horseshoe Bend is part of the Grand Canyon, but it actually resides within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

It overlooks one of the most spectacular views on the Colorado River, 4 miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam, and 7 miles north of mile zero of the Grand Canyon.

It has all the characteristics of the Grand Canyon: The river, the canyon, and the beauty.

Horseshoe Bend is close to Page, Arizona with scenic Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon nearby.

Horseshoe Elopement

Getting to Horseshoe Bend

The trailhead to Horseshoe Bend is a 3/4 mile hike. A bit of climbing may be required for some of the stunning backdrops Horseshoe Bend has to offer.

There are parts that can be a little steep and there is some sand. So be prepared with hiking shoes or other comfortable footwear.

You can always change into pretty shoes when you are on location. Although some shots of what it takes to get to a spot can be fun to look back on later. Horseshoe ElopementGrand Canyon Elopement

Looking Great in the Heat

On average, the Grand Canyon has 264 sunny days per year. So, chances are you will have a bright day – and if it’s during the summer, it will be hot. With shade being scarce, it’s important to prepare for a session that might make you sweat.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing to head out to your sunny and hot photo session.

1. Bring plenty of water because hydration is essential.

2. Apply sunblock thirty-minutes before heading and out and bring some extra with you.

3. Bring towels to soak up the sweat.

4. A portable personal fan is a great tool for cooling off between shots.

5. And finally, don’t forget a makeup bag for touch-ups.

Arizona Elopement Photography

Grand Canyon Elopement

Horseshoe Bend is Perfect All Day Long

As a photographer, there is a perfect time of day to take photos. It’s the hour right before the sun sets and is what we in the business lovingly call the golden hour.

Despite the crowds, the heat, and the fact it was high-noon with no shade (a photographer’s nightmare), we were able to get some incredible images that I hope they’ll treasure forever.

Kyle and Ivana’s tenderness towards one another was so sincere and so heartfelt, and I loved watching them interact.

Congrats you two! I hope you enjoyed your desert honeymoon!

Horseshoe ElopementArizona Elopement Photography

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March 17, 2018
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Mirror, mirror on the wall … Who’s the fairest of them all?

You, of course.  And we have the photo booth to prove it.

Tangled Lilac is pleased to announce the Reflection Photo Booth.

Reflections Photo Booth

The full-length mirror includes a user-friendly interface guiding guests through the process for an engaging and fun experience.

This isn’t your mother’s photo booth, either. The Reflection Photo Booth is truly unique and interactive and guaranteed to take your event to the next level.

What makes Reflection Photo Booth Different?

Interactive

Add emojis, write messages, and even choose your backdrop when you upgrade your package. The magical mirror will walk you through everything you need to do to make your one-of-kind keepsake.  Get unlimited copies and even text the photo to yourself to share online.

Customizable

Reflections Photo Booth is brand new digital photo booth that allows you to customize and capture your special day to make it an event to remember.  Customized Templates are available to keep your wedding, fundraiser or convention, fundraiser front of mind. Here’s one I recently created for an upcoming event in Phoenix for everyone’s favorite beer company, New Belgium.

New Belgium Uses Reflections Photo Booth

Why Reflections Photo Booth

Photo booths, with all their props, backgrounds, and catchy themes are hugely popular.

Well, Reflections Photobooth takes the photo booth experience to a new level.

The images from our photobooth provide more than just a great keepsake, they actually have huge benefits beyond the photo.

Keep Guests Mingling

Have you been to an event with a photo booth? Then no doubt, you waited in line to join the fun and had a blast getting to know other guests. If you’re anything like me, you may have even invited strangers into your photo.

Perfect for Sharing Online

Think of the Reflections Photo Booth as SnapChat IRL. And trust me when I say nothing is more fun than taking the photo booth experience to a new level by snap chatting as you are getting your photo taken.

Photo Booth Flagstaff

Not Just for Weddings

What do people do when they are having fun? They share their fun with the world. Imagine having Reflections Photo Booth at your next event, fundraising or conference. It’s easy to encourage your guests to share their creative, and quirky images along with a designated hashtag. The result? Instant exposure for you and your organization.

Reflections Photo Booth

Supersize the “Fun” Factor

Although there is more to a photo booth than the entertainment value it provides, it’s the fun your guests will have that will make your event memorable. The Reflection Photo Booth keeps guests busy and engaged. And hopefully, the experience will have them talking long after they’ve Ubered home.

Every Reflections Photo Booth rental includes an interactive touch screen, signature on print, emoji stamps, fun props, unlimited prints, a USB drive of all photos, an online gallery for 45 days and a friendly photo booth technician guaranteed to help your guests get in the mood to get their photo on.

Photo Booth Flagstaff

Reflections Photo Booth is the hot new trend in event entertainment and keepsakes. Make your event stand out and give your guests the time of their lives.

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March 09, 2018
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Flagstaff Pet Photography

I’ve always felt very strongly that the best way to change the world is by volunteering.

My father had a saying that has stayed with me my whole life….”Contribute what you can, when you can and how you can, whether it be money, time or service…YOU can ALWAYS make a DIFFERENCE.  Even the smallest gestures can change someone’s world.”  Dad was very wise and I miss him so much.  (but that’s another blog post)

A few weekends ago, I held my sixth annual Valen-Tails Photo Fundraiser for Paw Placement of Northern Arizona!  I got to meet over 40 sweet and cuddly new furry friends and some of the most amazing pet owners in the world.

Flagstaff Pet Portraits

Even though the fundraiser just ended, I’m already missing my new friends. Nothing makes me happier than spending the day with animals.

I’m happy to announce that we raised $1,855.00 for this organization to help them continue their important work in the Northern Arizona region.

Currently, Paw Placement of Northern Arizona is working towards bringing a 21st Century Shelter to our area.  If you live in Flagstaff, you know we need it!  Please read about their vision on their website.

Flagstaff Pet Photography

Special thanks to Canyon Pet Hospital for their sponsorship of this event, and to Kingsmark Kennels, Purina, Pet Your Shirt for the fabulous giveaway and raffle items.

Pet Photography Tips

I have been called a “pet whisperer” by some very kind friends. But I will admit, I do have a special relationship with animals.

When photographing people’s pets, I’m always asked, “How do you do it?”

Here are some of my favorite pet photography tips and some of my favorite photos from the very special weekend.

Use these five pet photography tips when you are trying to capture a special moment with your furry loved one.

Flagstaff Pet Portraits

1. Focus on the Eyes

You know what they say, “Eyes are the Window to the Soul.” Well, that is especially true for our animal friends.

It’s the eyes that make any portrait memorable. And that is even more true for your pets. Pet eyes are full of wonderful expression and successful pet portrait focuses the attention there.

Pet Photography in Flagstaff

2. Let Their Personality Shine Through

You know your pet and you should trust what you know. The very best photos showcase the true character and personality of the subject and this holds true for your pet.

Let your animal play, yawn, or even dress up. Get the perfect image out of your head and let the favorite furry subject redefine purrrfect.

Pet Portraits

Pet Photography

3. Surprise Them

You can’t expect your pet to wait for you to be ready to take the shot. Instead, let them continue to play, while you get ready.

Once your camera is focused and your animal is in the frame, call his name, or make a strange sound he’s never heard before and click.  The surprise will catch him off guard and give you a few seconds to capture something special.

Pet Photography in Flagstaff

4. Go to Them

The best photos will come when your pet feels comfortable. Instead of calling him to you, try going to him.

Get down on his level, look him in the eyes and show him your love. That is probably the most important tip I have.

Pet Photos

Pet Images

5. Be Patient

When your pet is excited by a new toy or some other excitement, it is often difficult to get the perfect photo.

But when your patient and you let your furball settle down, he will relax and you will end up with a much better shot.

Pet Photography

In the end, if you want to capture great photos of your pet, remember they are your people. Let them be themselves and focus on them, not necessarily trying to capture the photo.

In closing, I just want to say Valen-tales is my absolute favorite event of the year. The fact that I can help raise money for a worthy organization while having fun with friends and their tribe is a privilege and pure joy.

Pet Pictures

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March 03, 2018
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What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of romance and privacy in the same sentence? A vacation? An elopement?

Well, you can have both and they happen amidst the majestic red rocks of Sedona.

Sedona has become one of the most popular romantic elopement destinations in the world because of its stunning landscapes, breathtaking sunsets, and intimate wedding locations.

Here is a sneak peek into few of my favorite Sedona elopement spots.

As you read through them, the one thing you’ll notice is Sedona is not lacking for stunning views and magical moments to help make your day special and unique to you.

1. Courthouse Vista/Bell Rock

This is one of the most requested spots thanks to its beautiful views and magical red rocks on full display. It is easily accessible and easy to find with plenty of parking.

I mentioned the beautiful views, but they are worth mentioning again. And because of that beauty, it is a popular hiking trail which means it can be a bit crowded on the weekend.

Sedona Elopement

While most people like to hike the Bell Rock Trail, you can get away from some of the congestion and madness along the Courthouse Butte trail.

My recommendation is to choose a weekday for your ceremony if your timing is flexible to minimize surrounding activity.

2. Tlaquepaque

The Tlaquepaque chapel is the perfect place for a truly intimate wedding for couples wishing to honor their faith while eloping.

The rustic chapel is full of character which will can’t help but fill the room with love and emotion from the day.

Sedona Elopement

The chapel easily holds 30 people who will be comfortably seated in pews. If you are traveling with a large group, additional chairs can be set up in the back for a maximum seating capacity of 45.

Nestled among the Red Rocks, this is a perfect compromise between eloping and a traditional wedding.

3. Enchantment Resort

The aptly titled Enchantment Resort is well … enchanting. It’s perfect for the couple that wants the atmosphere of a traditional wedding with an intimate feel that an elopement brings.

Sedona Elopement

Enchantment Resort, nestled at the foot of the Red Rocks, delivers the landscapes that Sedona is known for and adds touches that elevate the experience to a certain elegance.

You’ll need to hire a wedding planner to coordinate the logistics of hosting your elopement ceremony and celebration at the property. This is a perfect option for a couple that plans on having family and friends surround them on their big day.

4. L’Auberge de Sedona

For someone who wants all the details take care of for them, L’Auberge de Sedona may be just the answer.

From their website:

“For a fairy tale rendezvous, couples can tie the knot with the “Elopement” package. The package offers a romantic location for a private dinner or ceremony, a two-night stay in a luxurious Spa Cottage, flowers, and a six-course dinner the with wine pairings and champagne toast.”

Sedona Elopement

Celebrate in style and headache free with the L’Auberge de Sedona elopement package.

5. Creekside Inn Bed and Breakfast

The Creekside Inn Bed and Breakfast has several romantic settings for your Sedona elopement.

You can choose the Glade that includes giant Giant Sycamores and Cottonwoods that provide a canopy to the lawn that sits adjacent to Oak Creek.

Or maybe you’d prefer the homier feel of the Porch that welcomes the sounds of the creek it overlooks.

The Creekside Inn boasts six perfect locations for your ceremony accommodating groups of all sizes.

6. Sun Cliff Sedona

If you need a luxury elopement or intimate wedding surrounded by beautiful red rocks of Sedona, this spot is perfect for you. It is very quiet with beautiful views that surround you with the energy and serenity the region is known for.

This privately-owned piece of property sits on 24 acres providing a playground for you and your guests, should you choose to share your day with others.

Sun Cliff Sedona offers elopement and honeymoon packages and is a perfect choice if you are seeking a luxury Sedona elopement experience.

7. Sky Ranch Lodge

Sitting 500 feet above the picturesque city of Sedona, Sky Ranch Lodge offers 360-degree views of the famous Red Rocks.

It boasts beautifully landscaped grounds littered with gardens, ponds and a patio with 180-degree views perfect for your ceremony.

Sedona Elopement

If a spectacular sunset elopement ceremony is on your bucket list, Sky Ranch Lodge will deliver.

8. Crescent Moon Ranch / Red Rock Crossing

Crescent Moon Ranch is a historic ranch house on the banks of Oak Creek with Cathedral Rock towering above it in the background.

After your ceremony, have a celebration and sleepover in the cabin located on the property that can accommodate up to ten overnight guests. You’ll also enjoy plenty hiking, swimming in the creek or simply relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Sedona Elopement

An additional option is to enter through the public entrance and head to the beaches of Red Rock Crossing for a celebration of love surrounded by flora, fauna, the waters of Oak Creek and spectacular rock formations.

9. Sugar Loaf Trail

Surrounded by rock formations with names like Chimney Rock, Thunder Mountain, and Sailing Ship Rock, you can only imagine the breathtaking beauty of the Red Rocks as they sit against the bluest of blue skies.

A lesser known spot in the area means less crowding and more exclusivity. But the mile-long hike means you have to work for it.

I promise you, the effort pays off big time and creates a very special story that will be evident in the photos of your day.

10. West Fork Trail

Oak Creek’s West Fork trail is one of the best hiking experiences in the area. It also makes for a pretty picturesque spot for an elopement ceremony.

Sedona Elopement

The trail is surrounded by towering canyon walls and it is semi-shaded by trees with parts of the trail situated alongside Oak Creek.

Final Thoughts

These ten spots are all amazing, each with its unique features.

You can see why Sedona is becoming a preferred elopement destination. If wedding photos are important to you, and they should be (just saying), start by talking to a photographer that is familiar with the region.

They will know the nuances of each spot and can help you pick the perfect location for your day.

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February 24, 2018
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Meet Linda and Larry. They chose the extraordinarily breathtaking Red Rock Crossing and Overlook for their wedding ceremony.

A Favorite Sedona Elopement Spot

Red Rock Crossing is one of the most photographed spots in Arizona. The warmth of the red rocks and the inviting sounds of the creek making its way through lush greenery provide a majestic spot for ceremonies of any size. It also happens to be easily accessible with plenty of parking and a short walk to the creek.

Sedona Elopement

Just one look at the photos and you’ll know why this couple decided to elope to Sedona and settled on this special place for their intimate celebration of love.

The spectacular image of Cathedral Rock in the background put an exclamation point on their special day and made for an array of stunning photos for Linda and Larry to share with their family and friends back home in Chicago.

The park is just a couple miles west of the center of Sedona and a perfect location to bring both Oak Creek and the splendor of the Red Rocks into your images.

Eloping in Sedona

Linda, a therapist, knew she wanted a professional photographer at their intimate ceremony. Larry, an aerospace engineer, wasn’t quite so sure.

It didn’t take long for Linda and Larry to get lost in the warmth of the sun, the beauty of their surroundings and the emotion of the day. Before too long, they both relaxed and enjoyed being the star of the show.

Just look at how they get lost in each other’s eyes. Something tells me, they forgot I was even there.Elope in Sedona

I get questioned all the time, why I still shoot in black and white – especially when there are so many brilliant colors found in the backdrop of Sedona.

There is something pure and deliberate about black and white photography. Shooting in black and white allows you focus completely on the subject and it gives room for the joy of the day to shine through.

Looking at Linda’s face, you can almost hear her whispering, “I do.” And Larry’s happiness is plain as day. It’s fair to say, he was comfortable with the camera by this point.

Elope in Sedona

Elope in Sedona

The Perfect First Kiss Photo

The perfect “first kiss” photo needs a little help from the officiant. It’s okay to ask him, or in this case, her, to step to the side for the photo op. That’s what happened here and I was able to capture a personal and private moment for their visual love story.

Here are few other tips for your perfect “first kiss” photo:

  1. Talk with your photographer and let them know the plan.
  2. Kiss for longer than you think you should, giving your photographer ample time to capture the flawless shot.
  3. When in doubt, kiss again. And again. And again. It’s tough work, but someone has to do it.

Elope in Sedona
Sedona Elopement
Sedona Elopement
Red Rock Crossing Elopement

I adore the fact that Linda wore a proper wedding dress. The simple silhouette with beautiful beaded accents and fabric that fluttered in the wind was the perfect choice to stand up to the brilliant backdrops that Sedona provides.

Larry dressed in neutral tones, not only allowed his bride to shine (as every good groom should do) but allowed the hues of the Red Rocks to do their job and create the perfect stage for their story.

Red Rock Crossing Elopement
Red Rock Crossing Elopement

Eloping into the Sedona Sunset

It was an honor to be a small part of Linda and Larry’s day and I’m grateful to have been able to witness and document their love story as they begin their new chapter as husband and wife.

And as they head off into the fabulous sunset of Sedona, I wish them a lifetime of happiness and beautiful memories together.

Eloping in Sedona

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