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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.

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!

Los Portales Styled Wedding Inspiration

Sometimes it is fun to play. To just create. Even though I know that, and have seen how beneficial it is to devote time to make photographs simply for the thrill of creating, it is still a struggle to actually make that happen in real life. You know what I am talking about. When you have your head down and are slogging through #adulting, whatever that looks like for you. Emails, deadlines, the dishes in the sink, yada yada. Whenever I can break free of that, even for a moment, and step out of the routine and make some magic happen, it is a wonderful experience. An experience I want to tell everyone about and sing from the roof tops. Here it is, some magic!

Our wedding photography business has allowed me to meet some other creative entrepreneurs and professionals. Hanging out with these people and their imaginative spirits is an exhilarating experience. After a few phone calls, texts, emails, and many Facebook messages an amazing team of vendors assembled and started the heavy lifting of brainstorming and planning this styled photo shoot. I have said it before and I will continue to say it, when you can find creative, capable people to work with, the best thing you can do is get out of their way and let them do their thing. I think this photo shoot is that mantra come to life. We decided to design the style of the photo shoot based on the enchanting landscape of southern New Mexico. New Mexico is after all the “Land of Enchantment.” A color palette of turquoise, sand, terra cotta, burgundy naturally emerged from this focus. Metallic accents of silver, wrought iron, and antique gold accompanied the desert inspired colors.  

I knew I wanted to photograph at a authentic southwest location, something true to the area. Location plays a large role in my planning and how I envision photographs in my mind. I first heard about Los Portales at the Las Cruces Bridal Showcase and then stumbled across the wedding venue's Instagram account and was captivated by the grand doors that accent the space. I am so glad the team at Los Portales was excited to participate in this wedding inspiration photo shoot. This space is absolutely beautiful; white walls, hardwood floors, unique string lights, red accent pendant lights, an adobe exterior, and of course those big architectural doors. Los Portales was first built in the 1930’s and for many years served the local community as a church. If you are looking for a wedding venue in southern New Mexico, you need to see this place with your own eyes.

The floral concepts and arrangements were designed by Susannah Calhoun of Calhoun Flower Farms. She created a show stopping table piece with air plants, succulents, and cacti. Individual stems also decorated the length of the rectangle table in turquoise and brown glassware. I love how the asymmetrical heights and colors of these individual pieces work together to form depth and create an eclectic feel. For the design pieces of the table setting to shine, they needed a strong foundation. Deanna Greene of Enchanted Occasions Event Rentals used sand, terra cotta, and turquoise colored linens to fuse the colors from our color palette. These bold colors stand out against the calmness of the white walls and hardwood floors of the room.

What would a wedding be without the details? Ariana Salcido of Letters and Such, provided gorgeous calligraphy with a menu card, invitation stationery, and a welcome chalkboard sign. She chose papers specifically thinking of the color palette, wood elements of the venue, and charcoal grey suit of the groom. Nate and I are both jealous of her mad lettering skills. She created the chalkboard lettering on the spot the day of the photo shoot!

Roxanne of Renee’s Bridal selected an Allure Bridals wedding gown that completed the vision of the shoot seamlessly. See what I did there? :) The bridal gown featured lace details over a blush undertone lining. The blush undertone hints to the sand color used throughout the wedding design. The bodice of the dress is adorned with silver and crystal beading. Our model, Elizabeth, looked stunning, as if that dress was made for her! Even though silver is the main metallic color of the details of this dress, who says you can’t mix metals?  I love how the antique gold bracelet and earrings provided by Heather Richman’s Chloe and Isabel boutique mesh together with the silver to accentuate the metallic element of this bridal look. Plus, the subtle burgundy and turquoise hues in the jewelry pair perfectly with the photo shoot color concept.

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Brenda Tarango of Make Up by Brenda gave the bride a natural and cool toned make up look. The soft light shade she selected for the eye shadow balances against the bold colors used in the tablescape and bouquet while the berry lip color brings just a touch of drama to the look.  Brenda spent nearly an hour braiding Elizabeth’s long hair into the most intricate and romantic braid I have ever seen! The soft loops and delicate weave of the braid is highlighted in contrast to the tight and intricate detail work of the living hair piece Susannah created using florals and cacti.

Let’s talk about the bouquet for a moment. Susannah is such an artist. And she is a visionary floral farmer. The florals and greenery featured in this southwest wedding design were locally grown. Bright pops of color and textures grab the eye's attention in this beautifully overflowing bouquet. 

And now for our dapper groom, Dustin. Everyone agreed the charcoal grey Michael Kors suit Roxanne suggested was the perfect choice to give the groom’s style an air of sophistication without sticking to a standard black suit. Continuing with the nontraditional sophistication vibe is the intricate live pocket square Susannah created. Tiny succulents and cacti sit proudly atop the suit’s breast pocket in place of a traditional boutonniere. Look at the detail complexities held in such a small space! Pure magic, I say. The brown shoe in this look helps to break up the grey and pairs nicely with the wood aspects of the venue.

During the photo shoot planning process, a few members took a field trip to visit Los Portales. As soon as we saw the hand carved wooden bar area we knew exactly where the cake should be photographed. Stephanie of Let Them Eat Cake approached the southwest wedding theme with the conviction to portray the desert and New Mexican landscape in a way that was true to her perspective and avoided any trite or kitsch representations. Using the southwest theme’s color palette, she created a collection of elegantly decorated cakes. By using the sand and turquoise hues, the cake’s design hints toward the relationship between expansive earth and big sky that New Mexico is so well know for. The showcase cake also has an attention grabbing metallic pattern that mimics the rising and setting sun with it’s accompanying rays of shine. The varying heights and styles of the cakes create a cohesive style with the eclectic shapes and sizes of the glassware used on the tablescape.

What began as a styled wedding reception look with the grand tablescape blossomed into a full wedding inspiration shoot with the addition of a lounge area and ceremony site. Three Sisters Wedding Services provided the vintage rentals and unique styling of each of these areas. In the lounge area, wood pedestals and distinctive furniture pieces mingle with burgundy candles on antique gold candlesticks. 

The lush turquoise settee cannot be overemphasized in the luxuriousness it brings to this wedding lounge set up. But it takes a close second to my favorite item Three Sisters included in the photo shoot. Using the outdoor lawn area that faces the impressive doors of the exterior of Los Portales, church pews were used for ceremony seating. These 10 feet long pews were salvaged from the historic Fort Boulevard United Methodist church in El Paso as it was being remodeled. I think this ceremony set up is so spot on for this venue. The church pews match the grand details of Los Portales’ exterior doors with their sturdiness and bring a sense of reverent tradition. Rugs were placed at the aisle’s end to root the ceremony look with southwestern texture and patterns. The rugs also add an element of softness to contrast the strong rustic features of the wood pews and doors.

I am so pleased with how wonderfully everything (and everyone!) came together for this styled wedding photo shoot. I realize how much time and effort every one of these wedding vendors put into this project: from the many planning sessions, the set up and clean up, and simply being away from their everyday business owner tasks. For that my heart is FULL of gratitude. What a superb community of creative professionals we have here blessing New Mexico brides and grooms!

Wedding Vendor credits:

Venue: Los Portales

Photography and Videography: Taylor'd Photography

Floral: Calhoun Flower Farms

Wedding Dress and Suit: Renee's Bridal

Cakes: Let Them Eat Cake

Calligraphy: Letters and Such

Hair and Make Up: Make Up by Brenda

Vintage rentals and styling: Three Sisters Wedding Services

Linens, chairs, flatware: Enchanted Occasions Event Rental

Jewelry: Chloe and Isabel

Models: Dustin Llanez and Elizabeth Reyes

 

My Framed Photographs at Milagro Coffee

A few months ago I looked into selling a limited edition print at a local coffee shop and as of last month, I now have nine of my photographs on display at the Milagro Coffee Shop near NMSU. They are quite a sight, but I am biased, so please go see them for yourself and tell me what you think. They will be taken down at the end of this month (June). I was a teenager when I learned how to compose a decent shot onto film and then enlarge it onto light sensitive paper in the dark. Digital technology fulfilled every photographer’s dream of getting out of the dark. But the process is too sentimental for me; I still develop my own film. Not that I don’t appreciate and utilize digital cameras just that I agree with the film looks better rhetoric. That being said, I take pride in the photographs I have on display, and will continue to make fine art photographs with the best quality museum standard available (which continues to change), and I will sign my photographs with my initials so that you will know it was a photograph taken by me, and held to my level of permanence standard.

The Same Fine Art Prints We Offer Our Clients

All of the photographs are giclée printed with archival pigment inks onto fine art cotton etching paper. These prints are museum quality and will last over a hundred years without fading as long as they are treated properly. Speaking of which, they are displayed in custom handmade spline joinery frames made from some of my favorite hardwoods ranging from purple heart to sapele mahogany. Spline joinery means instead of the wood being held together by V-nails, the staple used on most frames, they are held together by wood splines. This way as the wood contracts and expands throughout the year, it won’t be fighting a metal staple which does not (contract and expand). Half of the frames, except for those made from quarter-sawn oak and one made from Tiger Maple, are finished with pure tung oil, to bring out the natural color and grain of the lumber. All are dust covered with a breathable backing and an attached hanging wire. I know a lot about these, because I made them myself. Which is how I know these frames will last a long time. The quality of these framed prints aren’t unfamiliar to our clients, they have been decorating their own walls with them for years.

If You See a Photograph in Las Cruces Signed NT4

Without having any access to documentation, the easiest way to determine whether an art piece is somewhat rare as opposed to a mass produced reproduction, is the sight of a hand signed signature right on the artwork. So using an archival acid free ink, I signed most of these prints for this show with my initials, NT4. Nate Taylor, but what is the 4 about? The number 4 has been pretty significant to me over my life time. I was born on the fourth, I married a woman who was born on the fourth on the fourth, and there happens to be 4 people in our family. Despite all of that, the first job I had as a teenager that lasted longer than a couple of years was with a nationwide company that had identifier codes for each employee. First initial, last initial, and a number representing the number of employees with those same initials working for the company. I was the fourth person in the company with the initials NT. As I worked longer for the company I got promoted into management, and all paperwork that came my way, I had to sign in my employer identification code. So NT4 stuck. Ever since then I just initialed everything with the 4 at the end. So…I opted for signing my initials opposed to my full signature. I came up with my signature in the third grade and it hasn’t changed much since then so you can imagine it’s not the greatest looking signature. So until I take some calligraphy courses, I will be signing my art with my initials.

Las Cruces Wedding Vendors

We are excited to have our work featured in the Las Cruces Bulletin's 2017/2018 Wedding Guide! This is the third year in a row we have had one of our couples snag the cover! But hey, who's counting?!

We love showing off our amazing couples and the beautiful weddings they have planned. Besides highlighting our New Mexico brides and grooms, the wedding guide also features the talent of other Las Cruces wedding vendors and the many gorgeous photo locations the southwest has to offer. I want to take a moment and give the vendors we work with a shout out because we believe in cultivating our local community. Luckily for us, we get to work with SO many talented people. Somehow, just posting  the hashtag #shoplocal doesn't cut it.

Here are some of the fabulous local wedding vendors behind the scenes of our featured photographs. If you are planning a wedding, this is a great list of wedding vendors to reference!

Allison and Justin's October 2016 wedding at Josefina's Gate in Old Mesilla, New Mexico

Ben and Dom's bridal session

Photo location: Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument

Vince and Megan's November 2016 wedding, Photo location: Basilica of San Albino

Cake and cupcakes by Deliciously Creative Cakes

Hotel Encanto ballroom

Tiffany and Zach's September 2016 wedding

Venue: Josefina's Gate in Old Mesilla, NM

Hair and Make Up: Brenda Tarango, Makeup by Brenda

Cake and Cupcakes: Let Them Eat Cake

Dan and David's January 2016 wedding at St. Clair Las Cruces

Linens, Chair, and Tent: Enchanted Occasions Event Rentals 

Cupcakes by Stephanie at Let Them Eat Cake

Catering and reception venue: La Posta de Mesilla

Danny and Alejandra's September 2016 Wedding at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

Invitation suite by the Funky Olive Design

Music and party shenanigans by Grupo Classe

Photo Location: Mesilla Valley

Derrick and Jackie's October 2016 wedding at Red Hawk Golf Club

Custom invitations and wedding planning and coordinating by Elegant Events

Suits by Renee's Bridal 

Chairs, linens, dance floor and bistro lighting by Enchanted Occasions Event Rentals

Cake by Simply Sweet

Trevor and Annie's June 2016 wedding

Chair and ceremony set up by Enchanted Occasions Event Rental

Dress by Ella Blu

Photo location: the desert at sunset with the big beautiful New Mexico sky :)

To help you plan your wedding, we thought you might be interested to know some of the wedding vendors behind the scenes of our featured photographs.