Mid Century Wedding Inspiration at the coolest venue in the Southwest

I absolutely love every single detail of this styled wedding shoot. Let me show you what I mean!

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Alisha from Three Sisters gets credit for the concept and styling of this shoot. She incorporated moody tones like turquoise and deep greens. Golds and yellows were used as accents.

An easy chic hair style was created by The Fixx Salon and romantic make up look was artisticly  crafted by Elyse Simons

Isn't this dress amazing? It features "3D Lace" which is a super popular look in bridal fashion at the moment. What's 3D lace? Basically, it's different patterns of lace stacked on top of each other. Thanks you Ella Blu for providing this look!

Our models Lilli and Josh were so fun!! 

Ok, flowers. These absolutely steal the show. And Kern Place Florist is AMAZING. I am continually in awe of each of their creations. In addition to a luxe and overflowing bride's bouquet, they also made a floral hoop. A completely nontraditional look for a bouquet! AND Yazmin created the turquoise macrame table runner from hand...#talented. 

Let's talk about this venue. I called it the coolest venue in all of the Southwest and I completely mean it. There are SO many gems at Ardovino's Desert Crossing. Three Sisters set up a ceremony look on the wide open paver patio with accompanying lounge spots to take advantage of the sunset. Right in the middle of the shoot a train rumbled past the patio. This place has a ton of character. Like the eclectic collection of signs around the intimate porch area, which was styled for a tablescape look and was lit by a hanging chandelier. Charm for days. Oh and did I mention the neon lit signs on the restaurant entrance? This venue has so many unique details. I felt like a kid at Disneyland photographing here. Yes, I know, I am a complete wedding groupie/nerd.

Honeybee Cakes provided a elegantly simple chocolate drip cake styled with seasonal fruits and macarons. Not only did this cake look incredible, it tasted incredible too. One of the perks of a styled shoot, eating the cake after! I guess you could say we had our cake and ate it too! Ha!

A few fine details really brought this look together. Three Sisters created custom acrylic invitations, marble place cards and a signature cocktail board.

And now you can see why I LOVED every single little detail of this styled wedding shoot. Thank you Alisha for bringing it all together and every talented vendor who contributed to this awesomeness. 

This wedding inspiration was featured on The Vintage Herald

Vendor love:

Styling, Decor, Planning, Rentals: Three Sisters

Venue: Ardovino's Desert Crossing

Photography: Taylor'd Photography

Floral: Kern Place Florist

Cake: Honeybee Cakes

Dress: Ella Blu

Tux: The Tux Shoppe

Make Up: Elyse Simons Beauty

Hair: The Fixx Salon

Linens: Table Occasions

Models: Lillian and Josh

 

Wedding Photography: You Get What You Pay For

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Matthew and Jazmine Gallegos a couple that was married in Albuquerque, NM, back in September 2016 recently were featured in KRQE News 13 because their wedding photographer never delivered their wedding photos. They paid the photographer, the photographer showed up to their wedding, but when it came time to receive their photos…the day never came.

With tears forming in her eyes, Jazmine expressed “Those are memories that…”, “That we can’t get back” her husband interjected. Shaking her head in disbelief about their situation, she clarifies their loss “The photos that she took, the ones that we wanted to have up in our house to show our kids when we are old to look back on.”

It is this part of the interview that really stood out to me. Clearly, having photographs displayed throughout their house was a priority to this couple. Yet somehow they misplaced their trust in a photographer that didn’t deliver the most important part of the wedding photography process. So how did this happen? Based on the social media outcry in response to the story, everyone seems to know how it could have been prevented.

There is an old saying that sums it up well. “You get what you pay for”. This couple paid for the services of an inexperienced, untrained, out of area, hobbyist photographer, but expected more than they paid for.

There are a few flags that really stand out to me as a wedding photographer that I want to share with you. First, photographers are a dime a dozen. Most professional photographers learned photography shooting film cameras. If you go to a university for fine art, they are still going to make you learn how to develop your own film. It is crucial to understand that relationship between light and camera obscura to train your artistic eye in photography. Unfortunately in an art sense, but fortunately in every other sense, in 2018 everyone is a photographer thanks to our cell phones. And that is awesome and very convenient. But when it comes to art, selfies are not part of the curriculum. Which I believe led to the sad uneducated state we experience today, where the average person cannot tell the difference between a good photograph and a bad one. Which also explains why there are so many “professional photographers” that really just picked up photography as a hobby, have little to no artistic training, and yet offer wedding photography as a service to the general public for a price they came up with by looking at what other photographers in their area are charging and undercutting it. This is a big flag: Price.

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We all price shop, but there are certain times when I am willing to pay extra to get a better quality product. For example, leather. There was a time in my life when I would buy cheap leather shoes for work (back in my public accounting days). I would spend about $30 for a generic store brand, not like you could see the brand anywhere anyway right? I made sure I would get shoes made from genuine leather because even though I wanted something cheap, I wanted decent quality that would last a while. Despite my attention to that detail, my shoes would fall apart in about a month. I went through this cycle about three times before I got fed up and started looking into spending more for shoes that would last longer. It turns out that as I looked into the features that would help shoes last longer, I learned that genuine leather is not so great. In fact there is only one type of leather worse than genuine leather, and that’s bonded (junk pieces glued together like a plywood of leathers). I was floored. Now I know to get full grain leather, a leather that not only holds together better, but gets more beautiful with age. And guess what? Full grain leather shoes cost about 4 times as much as genuine. I have two pairs of different full grain leather shoes that I have had over 4 years now. One month compared to four years. Even though the price up front was much higher, the cost of the shoes over their lifetime is much cheaper.

I share this personal story with you because this is the case in every industry including photography. Many photographers have strayed from the traditional value of displaying photographs on physical walls and have moved onto the walls of Facebook. The average life of a digital file from the archivists I have spoken with, is about 5 years. Whereas when I visit my parents’ house, I see framed photographs on the wall that have been displayed on a wall my entire life.

This couple expressed their physical loss of the ability to display their wedding photos in their house. They clearly valued that in hindsight, but they didn’t value it enough to spend the kind of money it takes to hire a professional photographer who makes a living from making such images and physical artwork for their clients.

Which brings me to the next flag, a professional photographer is anyone who earns more than 50 percent of his or her annual income from photography. Back when I was a public accountant, and Elise was a photographer, we mistakenly referred to her as a professional photographer. More than half of her income, the money we used to support our family, came from my public accounting job, not photography. Why is that distinction or level of detail important? Because people who make their living from photography are more qualified than someone who just purchased a DSLR camera and decided today they are a professional. And sadly, that is how the industry works. There is no accreditation for the photography industry. There are associations, like the Professional Photographers Association, that awards it’s paying members “degrees” for their commitment to their group. But that is neither here nor there since their members don’t have to be professional photographers to join in the first place. Most brides aren’t looking to see formal education listed on the about page of the photographers they are price shopping. A photographer doesn’t need to hold a Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree in order to create a website that states they are a professional photographer. So the overwhelming responsibility depends solely on the client. The client must determine with their artistically trained eye, or lack thereof, to determine for themselves by critiquing each photographer from their area’s individual portfolio to determine the validity of that person’s claim to be a true professional photographer. Which is crazy, especially considering most have never been through or seen a formal critique to begin with let alone the photographer who they are critiquing.  

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Next flag, reviews. I read comments saying this couple should have looked at reviews to know whether the photographer they hired was legit or not. The photographer they chose had an A- on the Better Business Bureau’s website, which means they had good reviews. Why are reviews not cueing unprofessional photographers? Because my friends, no news is good news. Reviews are usually received when requested. New photographers tend to offer friends and family free photographs to get their foot in the door of the industry and build a portfolio. Then they turn around and ask those same people for reviews. When is the last time you left a bad review for a service or product you got for free? Ratings are not enough when browsing reviews. It would be foolish not to read several of the reviews to determine what people are actually getting from hiring this photographer. What was their experience? Would they recommend or use this photographer again? And even after looking at reviews with this in mind, understand how limited this source pool is. When is the last time you switched service providers in any industry and found out that the new service provider is so much better? Did you go back and leave a bad review on the previous service provider? Of course not. People have their reasons for switching and often are bad at putting those reasons in words without being a troll. So why bother? And that is the downfall of relying on reviews. Look for a wide range of portfolio images form the photographer. Is their portfolio comprised of several different people or is it the same people over and over again? If you see nothing but photos of their kids, then this is a sign they are new to the industry. Look for these kinds of flags, and gamble with your money not your photographer.

Lastly, beware of new photographers to the industry and your area. There is a reason why people praise experience so highly in any profession. Hire new photographers at your own risk. Ansel Adams said it best “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” Ultimately when you hire a professional, you are paying for their capability, consistency, and ability to deliver after the end of the day. All of which comes from experience doing so over and over, time and time again. And going back to professionals making their living from photography not their spouse’s income from their job, beware traveling photographers that move from place to place to wherever their spouse goes for their job. That is a big red flag that this person can disappear with your photos in a heartbeat. The best way to support local businesses is to look for the old salty dogs of the industry. Those who have deep roots in your area and don’t just talk about how much they love the area, but are actually grounded there. They have family here. They went to school here. They contribute to the community here. That is how you build your local community, not by chasing the cheapest, newest options. Those are just gimmicks like genuine leather.

Some simple questions this couple could have asked to prevent this from happening to them would look like this. Do they make a living from photography? Have they been providing photography to my area for several years? Do they have a formally trained artistic eye? Have they ever used a film camera and developed their own film? Do they have a wide variety of portfolio images as well as several different clients in the images?

If you are reading this thinking “Oh they are just saying look for a photographer like them”, you are right. That is exactly what I am saying, because we would never do this to one of our clients.

Photography Interview for Las Cruces Bulletin's Perfect Southwest Weddings

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Avra Elliott asked me a few questions for her article on wedding photography in the 2018 Perfect Southwest Weddings magazine from the Las Cruces Bulletin. You can read the article on page 20 of the guide. I thought it might be helpful to post my full answers to her questions. I always like being asked about wedding photography. It's a topic I can talk on and on about. 

Have you noticed any new trends in how couples are choosing to record and preserve memories of their wedding day or the events leading up to it?

Showing off the proposal is super popular right now and more and more couples are choosing to photograph their proposals. There are even websites (like HowHeAsked.com) and Instagram accounts who exclusively feature proposal moments. This means whoever is popping the question has a little more planning to do to make sure the moment is “picture perfect”.

Another trend gaining popularity among brides is a “First Look” with their father. The “First Look” between bride and groom has been a popular option for several years but many brides still want the electrifying experience of their groom seeing them for the first time as they walk down the aisle. The daddy daughter spin-off of the First Look gives brides that special “Wow!” moment with the man who “loved her first”. As a photographer, I love this idea, because I can capture emotionally rich and even tear filled moments of the bride and her father.

More than ever, brides and grooms are looking for photo products that don’t make them feel bad about their production. The “Guilt Free” movement focuses on supporting fair labor practices in your purchasing decisions. Brides and grooms are looking for locally made items, like frames and albums made in the USA instead of countries with unknown labor standards.

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Do you have any tips for couples on how to choose a photographer and the correct package for their wedding?

First, make sure you love their photos and second, make sure they know how to photograph a wedding. Creating a handful of beautiful photos at a wedding is easy when you take a 1000 photos, but it takes experience to create hundreds of beautiful photos on a wedding day. You can’t redo your wedding photos.

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Look for packages that include plenty of coverage time on your wedding day. From getting ready photos to a sparkler send off from the reception, you will want your photographer there for all the important events.

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What is your personal goal or favorite moments when photographing a wedding?

When I photograph a wedding my goal is to create artistic and authentic photos that will help the couple remember the biggest moments and the smallest details of their wedding.

Weddings are full of emotional moments and each wedding has its own personality and dynamic so it is hard to pick a favorite one size fits all moment. But if I had to, I would say my favorite moment is when the bride and groom walk down the aisle as husband and wife. The expressions and smiles on the bride and groom’s faces are so genuine and unguardedly joyful that this shot always makes my top 10 from any wedding.

2018 Southern New Mexico Wedding Expo

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We are so excited for this weekend! Come join us for an afternoon full of wedding planning fun. We will have a booth full of our gorgeous canvases, frames, and albums featuring our signature style of wedding photography for you to browse and enjoy. The Southern New Mexico Wedding Expo is this Sunday, February 25th at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces from 12pm-4pm. This is the perfect event to meet the area's top wedding professionals and get plenty of wedding ideas. Stop by our booth and say hi!! 

Perfect Southwest Weddings

Guess what? Matt and Lorena are on the cover of the 2018 Perfect Southwest Weddings magazine from the Las Cruces Bulletin! 

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Throughout the wedding guide our wedding photography is featured alongside articles full of wedding planning advice and ideas. I thought it would be fun to post the photos that are published in the magazine with some behind the scenes details.

Madeleine and Colt were married in scenic Ruidoso. They are both from Texas and planned a destination wedding that included their families and closest friends. Their wedding was simple and intimate with touches of elegance like the fur stole Madeleine wore for keep warm. After the church ceremony they held a wedding dinner and reception in a large vacation rental home. Family photos, white rose petals, and string lights were easy and stress free reception decor. 

Celina loves the fall season so we made sure to schedule her engagement portrait session when the pecan tree leaves were changing colors. She included a chalkboard sign with her and Jammal’s wedding date and then used her engagement photos in their Save the Date cards.

Celina’s wedding dress is from David’s Bridal. As a sweet gift to her father, Celina had a heart patch embroidered with a special message which she then attached to her dad’s tie. As a mom of two daughters, these daddy daughter moments at weddings always get me. 

Jammal and Celina were married in the courtyard patio of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum by Pastor Conrad from Living Waters church. It was a perfect sunny afternoon with a gorgeous view of the Organ Mountains. 

I think Celina was ahead of this year’s Pantone color trend. She used shades of purple in her bouquet which was created by Fiesta Flowers. Wedding day coordination and planning was assisted by Elegant Events.

Benny and Melanie were married at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course on a warm summer day in August. I love summer skies. For me, nothing beats a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. The covered patio at the clubhouse made the perfect dance floor for the rest of the evening. 

Lorena and Matt also used purple as one of their wedding colors. Since they were planning a wedding for October they used oranges and maroons as accent colors. Look at all those deep lovely colors in Lorena’s bouquet from Barb’s Flowerland. Stunning!

Nate and I always highly suggest sunset photos to our clients. If you plan ahead it’s easy to sneak away from the wedding reception for a few moments. The garden patio area of the Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces looks incredible at night. If I didn’t know better I could be fooled into thinking we were miles away at an island resort. And look how well those sunset colors complement Lorena and Matt’s wedding colors?!

Garett and Gabrielle were married in one of the region’s most historic churches, the Basilica of San Albino on the Mesilla Plaza. Their getaway car was a vintage Porsche owned by Garett’s dad that was brought out of the garage for just this occasion. Jewel toned floral goodness and shotgun cased boutinerries was created by Calhoun Flower Farms. I have seen bridesmaids have matching hairstyles before but never groomsmen. The beards are a nice touch, well done gentlemen. 

Thankfully Garett and Gabrielle were up for more photos when sunset time rolled around. Big thanks to Garett’s brother and best man for holding my light and assisting me! Garett and Gabrielle held their reception at the Grapevine Plaza. Gabrielle and her bridesmaids had their hair and make up done by The Fixx Salon

 

Desiree had one of the most unique dresses I saw in 2017. Those flower details are so beautiful and she looked amazing on her wedding day! Before we wrapped up photography for the night, Nate convinced Desiree and Lucio to take one more photo. Nate loves photographing at night and he clearly had a vision in mind when he set up this photo. I think this photo of Desiree and Lucio, at the end of their wedding day, in the empty courtyard where they were married just a few hours prior will always carry a deep level of sentimentally with it. 

Dalina and Tony's summer wedding was very detail oriented. Which makes complete sense when you know Dalina. She's an auditor and is comfortable in the thick of details, details, details. And these details had a purpose and told a story. For instance, the pearls Dalina wore were from Tony's late mother. Tony's boutonniere was adorned with a small photo of his mother, which was a special way to have her close. 

Dalina's hair was done by Meghan Avilucea from Salon de Mesilla and her make up was done by Laura Juarez. After the church ceremony, their wedding reception was held at the picturesque Rio Grande Winery in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Everything at the reception was beautifully and romantically decorated by A Catered Affair. Dalina and Tony's cake was made by Deliciously Creative Cakes. A side note about the cake: During the cocktail hour of the reception Nate and I were photographing all the reception decor and details. Winds were starting to pick up and the sky was deepening to a grayish, thunder-storm-coming color. We hastened our step to get the detail photos we need as quickly as possible. As I was photographing the cake, the storm showed up in full force. You can actually see how the mountains are blocked out by the dust in the picture of the cake.  The winds were so powerful that the whole cake started to move. AH! I grabbed onto the base to stable it and Dalina's uncle ran over and we both hauled that beautiful cake inside. Moments later the freak storm everyone talked about for the rest of the summer (known as a haboob, you learn something new everyday!) rolled through the reception. Luckily, Dalina and Tony were able to stay in good spirits as the venue and catering crew got to work putting things back together. Weddings in New Mexico, man, you never know what is going to happen!

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Luis and Sabrina live in Germany. Sabrina is originally from the area and when Luis proposed they both knew they wanted to plan a wedding in the desert. Determined to do things their way and with no stress involved, they planned a very small, intimate wedding with just a handful of friends present. They were married by a judge on a small tucked away corner of Cattleman's Ranch in Fabens, Texas. For the traditional wedding toast they brought champagne that was made right in their hometown in Germany. Their wedding was featured on IntimateWeddings.com, click on over to read more about it and see more photos, like Sabrina's cacti bouquet!

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Jennett and Armando also dealt with a little bit of weather during their summer wedding. Not the freak storm kind, but just enough to make a moody dark sky. Which I don't mind at all! Jennett's hair and make up was done by Brenda Tarango. Gorgeous bouquets were created by Barb's Flowerland. Details and coordinating by Elegant Events

I am so pleased that a few images from the Los Portales styled shoot were featured in the magazine. This was such a fun shoot to collaborate on with a ton of the area's most creative wedding vendors! You can read all about the details, there are a ton, on this blog post. Or see the wedding blogs this shoot has been featured on: The Glittery Bride and The Coordinated Bride

You can find a copy of the Las Cruces Bulletin's 2018 Perfect Southwest Weddings around stores in Las Cruces.

Thanks to all the wonderful wedding vendors who make these special moments even more special and of course thank you to the editorial staff at the Bulletin for featuring our wedding photography!