happy christmas/thanksgiving/birthday!!
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“sayWHA?!”

Yes, that’s right. This past weekend my family celebrated Christmas. And Thanksgiving. And my birthday. And it was FABULOUS! Lance and I got home just after my brother and his family, and just before the ‘bad weather.’

The next night, we opened presents. Because someone kept asking “When can we open presents? When can we open presents?” And it wasn’t my three-year-old nephew. :-)

Since Jonas got a train set for his birthday, I gave him a train conductor outfit for Christmas!! When I was little, I had a McDonald’s outfit and I played restaurant ALL the time.

Thank goodness Lance has so much energy to entertain Jonas all weekend! :-) In between helping everyone open their Christmas presents, Jonas would come over to Lance and they would pop the bubble wrap used in some of the boxes.

Jonas also likes to snuggle and giggle with grandpa.

Isaac is already three months old!! Did someone say ‘time for a photoshoot?!’

Baby burrito!! :-)

Time to go sledding!

This is how Isaac felt about being outside in the cold:

“Aunt Laura, what does this do?”

“Hold it up to your face and find out.”

Snuggle time with grandma!

And of course I got some snuggle time in as well. Whenever I sat next to the Christmas tree, Isaac would stretch to look at the lights.

Caramel bourbon spice (birthday) cake.

It’s okay to be jealous. :-)

Apparently mom doesn’t keep birthday candles around the house.

“Aunt Laura, how many numbers are you?”

Me and my nephews! What more could a girl ask for on her birthday?!

I want to thank everyone who sent me birthday wishes! I had a fabulous day and it was a great way to finish up the holiday weekend with my family!

I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving! This year I was thankful for good health, family, my wonderful boyfriend, new friendships, and everyone who has trusted me in the past year to document their marriages and growing families. And caramel bourbon spice cake. :-)

first look
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It’s no secret that my absolute FAVORITE part about weddings is the moment the soon-to-be husband and wife see each other for the very first time on their wedding day.┬áIt’s so sweet and romantic and special!

I am so lucky that most of my couples opt to do a ‘first look.’ As soon as they are ready, I arrange for just the couple to meet someplace quiet before we start taking portraits.

I keep my big zoom lens on for these photos so I don’t distract my couple. I want this moment to be for them. So that they can have this time to hug and kiss and hug some more and tell each other how GOOD they look!!

I think I forgot to mention how exciting this is for couples!! Sweet, romantic, special and EXCITING!!

I let my couples have as much time as they’d like to have to themselves. Again, this is their wedding day. They are the ones getting married. And for the rest of the day, they will be talking with all their friends and family who have traveled so far to help them celebrate.

Of course, this is the perfect time to exchange letters or even (surprise) gifts. :-)

After the ‘first look’ I move right in to couple portraits. Doing a ‘first look’ before the ceremony gives us as much time as we want to explore different locations for photos. This also extends the ‘just bride and groom’ time before inviting the wedding party to join us for some more photos!

If you have any questions about the ‘first look,’ let me know!!

101. attend a workshop by jasmine star… CHECK!!
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Back in August, right in the middle of wedding season, I ‘attended’ a workshop by the ever-fabulous Jasmine Star in Seattle, Washington.

By ‘attended’ I mean the workshop was online. Live. For five days. Including a REAL wedding!!!

I was only able to watch a few segments live, because occasionally I had to change out of my pajamas and get some work done. However, I can go back anytime to go over everything from how Jasmine shoots an entire wedding to her online branding tips, to finding great light, and how to make couples feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

I think the most rewarding part of this workshop was watching the wedding and how Jasmine and her second shooter/husband JD, photographed it. I have second shot for other photographers, and it is so much fun to see how they work and react to different wedding-day situations. The awesome part about this particular wedding was that Jasmine would explain what she was doing why she was doing it. And I didn’t have to get out of my pjs.

Since I ‘attended’ this workshop online, I obviously don’t take any photos. So I’ll share with you my favorite from Jasmine’s blog.

It’s simple. It’s in an alley. But I love that the light is so soft and even. It makes me want to see things only by how the sunlight is being reflected.

Jasmine, you inspire me to be a better photographer by being myself and practicing what I love!

I should have been a chocolatier…
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My family is celebrating Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend. So of course I already have all my Christmas shopping done. And of course I have all the presents wrapped. So naturally I have my Christmas tree up and decorated. And you can’t have a Christmas tree up without a Nativity scene set up.

And you can’t have your apartment decorated for Christmas without a whole bunch of tasty treats to munch on!

As I was putting the drizzle on the peanut butter balls, I had Willow Smith’s song stuck in my head. Except I was whippin’ my fork back and forth, splattering chocolate drizzle all over the place. :-)

There might have been a one-person dance party in my kitchen.

56. invest in a portable workstation… CHECK!!
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People often ask me if I have a studio. Since I do weddings, I really don’t have a need for an actual office/studio space – my office is wherever I am!

This summer, out of my fifteen weddings, four were in the Black Hills region and the farthest was Stephen, Minnesota (yay Nathan + Emily!!) Being away from home for half of the summer meant that I would need a portable workstation so I could catch up on emails and editing every chance I could get!!

Here are a few of my ‘offices’ from the road. Clockwise from the top left: Lance’s parents’ sunroom, Coffea in Sioux Falls, fold-up table at my parents’ house, the Union at SDSU, the couch at my parents’ house, Bethania Church where my mom and her friends quilt together every Tuesday.

The REALLY exciting thing about my ‘portable office’ was that I ran out of packaging supplies while staying at my parents’ for over a month. (October was studio lb’s best month EVER in print orders!!) I rewarded myself by buying 6×8″ cardboard boxes.

Really?! That’s not exciting for you? Well, it would be if you knew how ridiculous it is to put a 5×7 box of prints into a 9×11 box. But now, I have the perfect-sized shipping boxes for smaller orders. Yay!