February 27, 2013

Our Morning Routine.

I like our mornings down here in Arizona. I like the slow pace. I like savouring this precious gift of time together in the morning. After almost 3 full months down here we have our morning routine all worked out.

He wakes up at least an hour before me. Quietly rolls out of bed and shuts the door behind him as he goes into the living room. This is his alone hour - his time. Lately, he fills this time with episodes of 24. He likes this time to start the day on his own time in his own way.

At 8:45 he puts on the coffee.

At 9:00 he slowly opens the door to the bedroom and gently wakes me up - with kisses if I'm lucky - and tells me 'Babe, it's 9 - Price is Right is starting'. To which I reply with a 'Mhmmmm - be right there.' It usually takes me a couple more minutes to actually drag myself up out of bed. I like stretching and letting my eyes adjust to the warm Phoenix sun coming through the blinds.


I always miss the first contestant.

I walk of the bedroom - shoot him a sleepy grin - and pour us coffee. Mine caramel coloured from the flavoured creamer. His, black. I try to always pour his into his favourite mug - the blue one.


Then I saunter over to the living room and pass him the hot coffee and sit down. I usually shiver after a couple minutes and he passes me the blanket he was using. We sip our coffee and yell our advice at the contestants. They rarely follow it.


Our mornings end with empty mugs and cuddles on the couch. Our mornings make us both happy. The perfect start to the day.

February 25, 2013

Why I Blog.

Last week I lacked motivation and inspiration to blog. I struggled. I didn't have any new photos to post - funny how not taking any photos recently leads to that. So that left me coming up with a topic to blog. Which lead to all those familiar self doubting thoughts and questions - I have nothing interesting to share. What do I have to share that is worth posting? Every single blog out there is better than mine. Do my opinions and thoughts even matter?!

And the one that haunts me most frequently - who even reads this little blog of mine?!

Really, who cares if I even post anything at all?! What? Me? Melodramatic? Nahhhh ;) The struggle I was feeling lead me to ask myself why I was even feeling bad for not posting and feeling pressure to come up with some "great' blog topic.

Why do I blog?

And the answer, brought me out of the depths of self pity and put my feet back on the ground. I blog for me. Just me. It really doesn't matter if anyone reads it (but it is totally awesome when people tell me they do - it makes me happier than I can say, heart hugs people). This little space online serves as my personal journal - to write down and document not only the photos I capture but my life. My thoughts. My experiences. My feelings. That is my main goal with this space. I love looking back at posts that captured a little snippet of life - it helps me to remember and be thankful. For this wild and precious life.

All the other benefits - giving clients a space for me to showcase their beautiful images, connecting with other people, sharing my personality with potential clients so that they hopefully like me and hire me - those are all amazing secondary goals of this blog.

By blogging for myself first - I hope to make my posts as genuine and natural and me as possible. I want those who know me to say "Yes, that is completely Kari" or those who meet me after reading the blog say "Yes, this is the person I thought she'd be". I have to let go of what 'everyone else' is doing on their photography blogs and focus on what this blog means to me and how I want that reflected here.

Why do you blog?


February 22, 2013

Recent Reads.

I just love to read. It started before I can even remember really - being read books before bed, going to the library and picking out so many books I could barely carry them all, finding out that books without pictures are actually better stories. I loved reading so much that the librarians on our local bookmobile (you know, a bus made into a travelling library?) knew me by name by the time I was in grade 2 and would put aside books for me that they thought I would like.

Once, when I was seven or eight, I may have even turned my bedroom into a 'library' complete with barcodes and index numbers on each and every book I owned. I made my family, and my stuffed animals, come and see me so they could check out books. Some books at my moms even still carry the evidence from this endeavour of mine!

Needless to say, one of my favourite parts of being down in Phoenix is all the free time I can fill with books. I thought it was time, once again, to share some of my recent favourite reads!



The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

This book, oh this book, had me hooked from the very first page. I honestly could not put it down. The story itself was incredibly but the beautiful language and the captivating way the author used it was just so amazing. I have not been this drawn to a book in a long time - I hungrily turned pages wanting more and more.

It is a story about a young woman who is given the task of writing an aging author's life story. The real story. It is incredibly to see how these women's lives become entwined throughout the 'interviewing' process. Full of shocking revelations and drama this book is a must read. No, really. You must read it.

My favourite line: "There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” 

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

It took me a little while to get into this book but once I did - I was all the way, fully captivated, completely into this book. The story itself, the main character Kate recounts her past where her and her siblings were forced into an impossible life changing situation, was great but it was really the characters I was hooked on. I got so attached to these characters that I was actually really sad when the book ended - I wanted to know more about their lives and especially how the rest of their story played out. 

Beautifully written book with amazing character development. A story based on family and community ties and how fates are crossed. By the end, I was in love. 

My favourite line: "There's no end to how far back you can go, of course, when you're trying to figure out where something started."

Night by Elie Wiesel

I've read a lot of books recounting the Holocaust and every single time I am shocked by the horrific ordeals so many people endured. Shocked. Without fail. It is almost impossible to understand how human beings treated other human beings in these horrible ways; but, even more so, how people survived. The enduring power of the human spirit is incredible. 

This book is a real life account of a young jewish boy's suffering during World War II. I held it together until the very end - when I could hold them in no longer - tears were pouring down my face. Beyond heart wrenching. This account of the authors experiences are raw and real and very hard to read at times and he recounts them in a very straightforward way. 

It is so important to know and remember what all of these people went through - to honour their lives and not turn a blind eye and let it fade away into the past. The Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech at the end of this edition was so full of amazing quotes: 

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

"What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone: that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs."

Night is the first in a trilogy and I definitely want to get my hands on them to read more about this man's life. 

Next up on my reading list is The Poisonwood Bible and The Mermaid Chair. What are you reading? 

February 15, 2013


I've said it before - we have to be very intentional about what we bring into our house. Especially when we are down in Phoenix; because, it not only has to fit our storing/price criteria it has to take up as little room in the car as possible. We only bring one car down here and pack it as full as possible - if it doesn't fit in the car it doesn't make the trip!

When I first saw these beautiful jugs made of recycled Spanish I fell in love. But, I hesitated to purchase one. It was a stretch to fit them into all of our criteria. A big stretch. So - I hesitated.

I just couldn't walk away from them though. I really, really, loved them. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and not worry about if it fits in the criteria.

So I bought one.

And I am so happy with my decision to buy this most recent treasure. It can sit in my lap on the way home if need be ;)


February 14, 2013

The Best Thing.

From our first dance song...

Oh because, you are the best thing
You are the best thing
You are the best thing
Ever happened to me

Baby, we've come a long way, baby
You know, I hope and I pray that you believe me
When I say this love will never fade away

My absolute favourite from our shoot with Melissa Jill.

And he truly is. The best thing. Heart is full over here.

February 13, 2013

MJ 2 Day Models.

Last week, Scott & I had the amazing opportunity to be the models for Melissa Jill's amazing MJ 2 Day Workshop here in Phoenix. Melissa is an incredibly talented photographer and it was such an honour and so much fun to be in front of her - and 15 other photographers - camera. More than that, Melissa is an amazing person with such a giving, kind, humble heart. She openly shares her vast photography and business knowledge through her workshop and blog with only the intention of building up other photographers and helping them succeed. I can't even begin to imagine the difference she has made in so many photographers lives.

It has been a joy to get to know Melissa on a personal level and I am so blessed to call her a friend. I am absolutely in love with the photos she took of Scott & I. She captured our love perfectly - she captured us.

Melissa, thank you from the bottom of my heart for these amazing photos - I cannot even begin to tell you how happy they make me. Even more, thank you for your friendship. I am truly blessed!

I had a hard time narrowing down my favourites....



Check out Melissa's posts from the workshop here.

February 08, 2013

Tips for Second Shooting: Part 3

This is the last and final post on my tips for second shooting! I won't drag it out any longer - promise ;) Get caught up on all the tips here.

Tip # 5

Keep Busy

On wedding days there is always, always, something you can be doing. There is nothing worse in my head than for a second shooter to be standing still not helping. I would hate for the main photographer to have to seek me out and ask me to go and find something to do! It is definitely easier said than done though and it takes understanding the flow of wedding days as well as taking initiative to find useful things to help with.

Here are a couple ways I have found help me to keep busy on wedding days. There are some situations, like formal family portraits, that do not require more than one photographer capturing the image. So, I put my camera down, and I keep busy by helping by gathering family, seeking out the missing Uncle Bob, prepping the groups for who is next, standing right next to the photographer and saying 'Everyone smile! Look right here! Only 2 more seconds! Doing great! You all look wonderful! Squeeze in!' - by doing all of those things I am helping the portraits go smoothly and quickly and to the guests I am still an active part of the process instead of creeping out silently in the background.

Another option, if the family portraits are being taken at the reception site, is for me to leave the group (after checking with the main photographer, of course! Communication!!) and go start capturing the details in the reception area before all the guests begin arriving. This can be applied to any part of the day when the photographer does not need you at their side and there is something else going on that you can capture instead. At cocktail hour you can capture candids of the guests, at the ceremony you can capture more details, during portraits you can grab a bridesmaid aside and snap a quick picture of her bouquet or hair piece or even grab a picture of the groomsmen holding their gift.


The most important thing is to keep busy - there is ALWAYS something to do at a wedding day! Take initiative and do not wait to be asked by the main photographer.

Tip #6

Don't Over Shoot.

Wait... Whaaat?! Isn't the second shooter there to provide more photos? Shouldn't they shoot everything and anything and a million of it to give the main photographer more options?!


The second shooter isn't there to capture the wedding day in its entirety. They are there to fill the gaps in the main shooters coverage to provide a fuller representation of the day. It can actually be more work for the main photographer if you hand over 3000+ images from the day. Including 200 shots of just the brides shoes - they might only want to add in 1 or 2 of the brides shoes and mostly likely they've already captured one that they really love SO they have to go through 200 images just to select 1 image they want to deliver to the client?! And then repeat with the remaining 2800 images? Way too much work!

Be selective and intentional with what you are capturing - make sure you are providing a variety of shots that are different without going overboard.

The details on this alter were amazing - I could have shot so many photos of just this! I had to restrain myself and not go crazy overshooting it!

I could probably keep going writing even more tips and little tricks that I've learned through second shooting; but, what they all boil down to is becoming the best possible asset to the main photographer on the wedding day that you can. Always seek to help the main photographer in whatever ways you can instead of hoping to grab the best shots and improve your own portfolio.

Hope that this was helpful. These are the tips that I have found improved my second shooting abilities - I truly love second shooting and have learned so much through it!

February 06, 2013

Tips for Second Shooting: Part 2

Following up on Monday's post with more tips I have picked up while second shooting! Get caught up on the first two tips here.

Tip #3

Communication is KEY.

I probably over communicate on wedding days BUT it is just so important especially when second shooting. I always make sure I know what the main shooter requires of me and wants me to capture - this helps me know that I am delivering exactly what the main shooter is expecting from me. For the ceremony, I like to talk for a couple minutes before it starts and plan out where each of us is going to shoot from and also what lens the main shooter wants me to use. It makes my job easier knowing exactly where I should be shooting from and also what type of shots I should be trying to capture. Throughout the day I am constantly asking: "What do you need me to do?" "How I can help?". I might get super annoying but at least I know that I am helping in ways that are actually helping the main shooter!

I second shot for Modern Pixel Photography so much this past year that Mike & I had a system worked out for lots of situations, including the ceremony, so we did not need to communicate quite as much after a few weddings. But, we still would have a quick chat before the ceremony to make sure we were on the same page or make changes if there was something unique about the ceremony.

Can you spot Mike? He's way over on the right side!

Tip #4

Capture Complimentary Images

The main shooter doesn't need a bunch of duplicate photos - the same angle & composition - from the second shooter so I try to always grab a slightly different angle or composition that will compliment the main shooters photo and add variety to the photos.

The easiest way to make that happen is by standing to the left or right of the main shooter and capture photos from there - just make sure to stay out of their shot!

Mike's angle:


My angle (after they shifted poses but stayed in the exact same spot as the above photo):


To give the main shooter an even larger variety of photos - you can capture different aspects that make up the main image. Focus on just the faces or their feet or maybe, like below, the bouquets.


Another way to capture a different image, if you cannot shoot from a drastically different angle, is to use an opposite lens from the main shooter. If they are using a wide angle lens then I try to use a longer focal length to get a lot tighter of shot or vice versa. My general rule is to never have the same lens on my camera at the same time as the main shooter.

Mike's wide angle shot:


My cropped shot:


Thanks Modern Pixel for letting me use your images!

Finishing up this series here.

February 04, 2013

Tips for Second Shooting: Part 1

This past summer I gained a lot of knowledge second shooting. Not only did I learn a lot about photography - I learned a lot about how to be a second shooter. Because; really, it's a lot different than being the main photographer on a wedding day.

I hope that by sharing the knowledge I gained I can help at least one person become a better second shooter! This tips are more geared towards a situation where there is only the main photographer and the second photographer and no assistant.

Tip #1:

Check your ego at the door.

This is probably the most important tip I can share. Your main job as a second shooter is to HELP the main photographer - and that can take many different forms. No job or task or request is below you - anything that needs to get done, you do it. This especially applies to non photo taking related requests. Someone needs water? Go get it. Photographer forgot something in their car? Go get it. Reflector needs holding? It's all you.

Also, these are not your clients so however the main photographer chooses to approach the day is the way it goes. If you would handle situations differently - or choose different poses - or use a different location, that is fine. Keep your thoughts to yourself and don't become a diva. If asked for your opinion, give it. Otherwise, smile and help the main photographer as much as you can.


Tip #2:

Know How Weddings Work

For most brides & grooms along with their families & friends - this is one of the first weddings they've been a big part of. So, all the little details that make up a wedding day are all new to them. You need to have all the answers for them and help them out so that the main photographer can focus on the photography.

You need to know how and where to pin boutonnieres, that bridesmaids should hold their flowers just below their belly buttons, what hand to wear wrist corsage, how rental ties work, how to do cuff links, how to do corset backs on dresses, be ready to pin bridesmaids dresses or get the zipper up, be able to bobby pin stray hairs back up, how to walk down the aisle, how to get into a limo in a big dress, and anything else that might come up on a wedding day.

Helping in these ways can lower the stress factor of the day and help everyone enjoy and be present in the moment - which makes for better photos!


I know, I know. Neither of these tips have anything to do with actually taking photos BUT I really think that the second photographers job has so much more to it than just taking photos. The second shooter is there to help the day go smoother which can result in better experience for all involved.

More tips coming soon!