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April 14, 2018
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My two favorite things in life are animals and friends. And when those two things mix, life is perfect.

For those of you that follow me, you surely know Big Joe. Well, Amy Aranda and I met when she applied to adopt Big Joe’s girlfriend, Jaede, after rescuing them from Phoenix.  (If you’re wondering how beautiful Jaede is, just scroll to the bottom.  Isn’t she a beauty?  It’s no wonder why Big Joe loves her so much.)

Amy may not have known it at the time, but we were destined to become friends.

As the owner of Junto Spa, in Flagstaff, it was time for Amy to get some new headshots and I’m honored that she trusted me to help tell her visual story.

As I started to write this post, I began to think of all the reasons why I love headshot sessions. To be honest, this is not where I make the most of my money, but they are definitely one of – if not the favorite type of photography I do.

5 Reasons Why I Love Professional Headshot Sessions

Not every photographer loves shooting headshots, but I do for a variety of reasons.

The biggest reason is that it allows me to get to know someone. I get to hear about their dreams, their successes and challenges of their careers, and how sometimes, they are putting it all back together.  When I shoot elopements and weddings, I’m busy trying to capture moments without intruding.

When I shoot headshots, on the other hand, I totally intrude. I’m busy making my client a new friend because that comfort level often translates to stunning images.

Here are the main reasons why I love professional headshot sessions. They are:

  1. More casual in nature
  2. Full of laughter
  3. Inspiring when someone finds their inner confidence
  4. Genuine which produces real smiles
  5. Transformative

Speaking of smiles, looking through past headshot sessions to find one to showcase made me smile.  It was a wonderful walk down memory lane. Some of my clients were friends when we began, others became friends later on.

I think the thing that resonated with me most, though, was that almost all of the sessions started out with my client feeling uneasy. And looking at the images I can see when they began to feel comfortable and confident.

Here are a few things you need to know about getting your headshots done.

1. The best headshots are authentic to who you are and allow people to see and feel who you are as a person.

2. Your shoulder position matters – lower them as much as you can. Roll one shoulder forward or backward because asymmetrical shoulders work best.Yes, that’s a thing.

3. I mentioned it in last week’s blog, but it is so important that it warrants another reminder. You want to lengthen your neck and move your head slightly forward, similar to a ‘pecking’ motion. While not always the most natural feeling, this is the trick to looking confident and engaged.

Take Your Best Shot – Literally

Every Monday in April, join me in my downtown studio or at downtown Flagstaff outside location for a 15-minute headshot photography session. After we create some magic together, you’ll receive a polished high-resolution image to use online, in your marketing and wherever a good photo is required.

Here are the details:

  • The 15-minute sessions are available on April 9, 16, 23 and 30
  • You’ll have access to an online gallery to select your image
  • Package includes one image – additional photos can be purchased
  • The cost is $99

Let’s schedule something:

Click here to book your headshot session or call 928-774-0220

And as promised, let me introduce you to Jaede.

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April 07, 2018
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No matter your age or occupation, your online image gives you credibility and visibility.

I know what it’s like to step in front of the camera and feel awkward. Just because I’m a photographer doesn’t mean I like to be in front of the camera any more than you do.

I promise you, my experience both in front of and behind the camera, will make your headshot photo session painless. In fact, I’ll bet money you’ll even have some fun.

And that fun will translate into a stunning headshot where your best qualities shine through.

Take Your Best Shot – Literally

Every Monday in April, join me in my downtown studio or at downtown Flagstaff outside location for a 15-minute headshot photography session. After we create some magic together, you’ll receive a polished high-resolution image to use online, in your marketing and wherever a good photo is required.

Here are the details:

  • The 15-minute sessions are available on April 9, 16, 23 and 30
  • You’ll have access to an online gallery to select your image
  • Package includes one image – additional photos can be purchased
  • The cost is $99

Let’s schedule something:

Click here to book your headshot session or call 928-774-0220

Need more convincing? Keep reading.

In case you’re not convinced, keep reading.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Professional Headshot

1. A good headshot lets people get to know you

It can be hard to get to know someone online. Your online image says a lot about you. It can give someone a glimpse into your personality and eliminate the anticipation of that first real-life meeting.

A smile shows your warmth and approachability.

A serious look shows that you are focused, determined and committed.

If you are unsure how you should “look” during your headshot photography session, my advice is to look natural. But we’ll take several different shots so you’ll be able to pick the one that best represents you.

2. You will use it everywhere – especially online

If your day-to-day business doesn’t require you to hang out online, you may not realize the importance of a great headshot. I even wrote about why you need a great profile image here.

Whether you realize it or not, and whether you like it or not, people that don’t know you will look you up. You want to make sure you put your best face forward – pun intended.

3. It supports and enhances your skills and experience

A professional, polished image helps you stand out from the crowd. It shows that you take yourself and your work seriously.

If you claim to be an expert, the best at what you do and/or the person that can solve a problem, it helps to look the part.

Plus a professional headshot it can boost your self-confidence, and give you a renewed inspiration to go for big goals.

4. A proper headshot helps you make real-life connections

People study faces and a professional image will help them relate to you. When someone is doing their research, they will look for reasons to like you or dismiss you. It’s sad but true.

A current headshot that captures your true essence will attract the right people to you. I will help by capturing you at the right angle with your head tilted just right. By the way, the key to a great headshot lies in the head tilt.

5. Keeps you up to date and shows the current you

As we age, we change. Make sure you are representing who are today, not who you were years ago. You may not look as young as you want, but stepping into the real you shows a level of confidence that is infectious.

Hopefully, you now realize that getting a professional headshot is necessary. It doesn’t have to be scary, expensive or time-consuming, either!

I have a whole host of tips for making you look perfect while having a ton of fun.

Let Me Help You Take Your Best Shot

Here’s the scoop, one more time …

Every Monday in April, join me in my downtown studio or at downtown Flagstaff outside location for a 15-minute headshot session. After we create some magic together, you’ll receive a polished high-resolution image to use online, in your marketing and wherever a good photo is needed.

Here are the details:

  • The 15-minute sessions are available on April 9, 16, 23 and 30
  • You’ll have access to an online gallery to select your image
  • Package includes one image, choose more for an additional fee
  • The cost is $99

Ready for an image makeover?

Click here to book your headshot session or call 928-774-0220

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Meet Dana and Walter from Oklahoma. Walter’s wife of forty years passed away and he was blessed to find love again in Dana. The couple wanted to keep it simple and true to their adventurous spirit.

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They chose to elope to Sedona. Hitting the spectacular red rocks wasn’t adventurous enough, though. They wanted to add some pink to their day.

A Pink Jeep Tour Elopement

Pink Jeep Tours offers unique Southwest adventures in Sedona, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

Dana and Walter wanted to add a little extra something to their day. And what could be more special than a private tour around the beautiful red rocks to celebrate beginning their new life together as man and wife?

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About Pink Jeep Tours

Pink Jeep Tours has conducted over 700,000 tours during their 58 years in business. They offer quick treks or full-day excursions for an up-close look at Sedona’s Red Rocks, the mighty Grand Canyon, and the always thrilling Las Vegas.

Click here to learn more about Pink Jeep Tours.

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The Red Rocks Glow

The famous Red Rocks are made of red sandstone formations. They change color as the sun changes its position in the sky. They can look bright red in the middle of the day, a bright orange about an hour before sunset and the purple hues come out at dusk.

As a photographer that specializes in engagement and elopement sessions, I never tire of staging a photo with the breathtaking backdrops that Sedona has to offer. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. 2018-02-14_0051.jpg

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A Good Black and White Photo Speaks Volumes

Yes, the Red Rocks are spectacular in all their color. But a good black and white photo captures the soul of the subject. The timelessness of a good black and white holds a magic that is hard to capture in color.

Just look at these images of Dana and Walter. Their relationship and love become the focus – you can feel their emotion. It captures the true essence of that moment in time.

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Sunsets in Sedona are Magical

Did you know Sedona is ranked as one of the best places to see a sunset by Travel & Leisure magazine? In the world!

Travel & Leisure says:

“Watching the sunset can be a near-spiritual experience in the raw beauty of Sedona, where the desert meets the mountains. Sedona is known for its famous red rock buttes, and the sun’s setting rays make the vibrant colors of the landscape glow against the deepening blue of the desert sky.”

I’m not sure I could have said it better myself. I love late afternoon hikes that end as the sun is setting behind some of the stunning formations like Cathedral Rock or Courthouse Butte.

It also happens to be one of my favorite things to photograph. I’m glad my afternoon with Dana and Walter ended with the glow of the sun as it set on the red rocks followed by a beautiful, tranquil dusk.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Dana and Walter. I’m honored to be a small part of their special day.

Dana and Walter, may you enjoy each other and the beautiful images from your special day for years to come. ~Melissa

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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!

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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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