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Swiftwater Cellars Wedding | Nafees & Lindsay

Posted in Weddings

In a stroke of fate one autumn night, my husband and I met Nafees and Lindsay while playing shuffleboard at The Brick in Roslyn, Washington. They were in the area checking out wedding venues and we struck up conversation with them. It just so happened that we were on a random trip over there, looking for something to do in the fall and it was Lindsay’s 30th birthday. A friendly bar game turned into wedding talk and the rest is history! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know these two throughout their engagement. We traveled to Bainbridge Island together for their engagement session which was a total blast. They really do make a great pair. A nurse and a lawyer, they love to cook together and spend time in the city with their sweet puppy. On their wedding day, it was clear that these two are loved and admired by so many people. Seeing the two cultures come together was incredible and Lindsay’s taste in decor was absolutely on point. To top off the evening, Nafees surprised Lindsay with the keys to a new car! Instead of continuing to gush on about how amazing their Swiftwater Cellars wedding was, I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. Congratulations Nafees and Lindsay – you two are just the best! Also many thanks to my amazing husband for being my second shooter at this wedding. Not only is he a talented web developer, his photographic eye results in some spectacular images!

WEDDING TEAM
Venue: Swiftwater Cellars
Wedding Planner: Bretlyn Shea Events
Floral Design: Carol Allmand
Catering: Swiftwater Cellars
Pakistani Desserts: Punjab Sweets
Makeup: Emily Oliver Beauty
Hair: Chromatique Salon
DJ: Kryspin
Bride’s Gown: Catherine Deane from BHLDN
Accessories: Nordstrom
Groom’s Suit: Mario’s
Bride’s Shoes: Ted Baker
Signs: Rich Design Co
Tables: Puget Sound Farm Tables
Calligraphy: Rainy City Calligraphy

We are now booking weddings for 2018! Please inquire about our winter special for weddings January – April. Email amy@amygalbraith.com for pricing and availability!


Wedding Planning | 3 Reasons Why You Should Do a First Look

Posted in Wedding Planning Tips

A first look. What is it? While there are many variations of it, basically it is the chance to see your significant other in a chosen location, BEFORE you walk down the aisle. Typically it would take place a couple of hours before the ceremony when your makeup is at its freshest and the guests haven’t arrived yet. There are some serious advantages to doing a first look from a photography standpoint but there are also some advantages for you as a couple!

1. Alone time TOGETHER. Your wedding day is going to fly by. Once the ceremony is over, you will practically have no time together, alone, as a couple to soak it all in. Having a first look in private gives you a chance to relish in the moment and sit back and enjoy the fact that “this is all really happening.”

2. You can react how you really want to. I’ve heard before from past grooms that they say they feel like they had the chance to react how they really wanted to while seeing their bride for the first time in private rather than in front of 150 people. If the audience knows that the bride and groom haven’t seen each other until walking down the aisle, all eyes will be on the groom and that adds a lot of pressure! Doing a first look in private gives both parties the opportunity to really let those emotions flow.

3. You won’t miss your cocktail hour. If photographers are not given the opportunity to do some photos before the ceremony, all of the photos will happen during cocktail hour and will also be a bit more rushed. Doing a first look gives you much more time to spend socializing with all of the wonderful people that you personally handpicked to be there!

Have I sold you on this yet? Here are a few more tips for making the most of your time during the first look:

– Choose a location with great lighting. While the scenery may seem important, good lighting is better so that you can actually see each other’s faces and reactions in the photos. Shady spots are great and something out of direct sun is helpful. Your photographer will also be able to choose a spot if you’re not totally sure.

– Decide on whether you want your friends and family to be there to see the first look ahead of time. I personally prefer the first look to be in private, but some couples want to have their loved ones present. Be sure to decide on this before walking out the door to avoid any awkwardness.

– Think about how you want to do your first look. Will you walk down a path? Tap your groom on the shoulder? Step out from behind a curtain? All of these are things to consider and definitely work with your photographer on!

Want more timeline advice? Check out my post on how to create the perfect wedding day timeline!


Rattlesnake Lake | Engagement Session

Posted in Engagement

rattlesnake lake engagement photos

I was so excited when Brian and Amanda reached out to me to photograph their wedding. It was years ago, but I met Brian during a splitboarding trip near Mt. Rainier. It’s been years, but I was so thrilled to hear that he had met an adventurous woman to accompany him on all of his outdoor adventures. Amanda is an amazing lady and the two of them compliment each other so well. They love spending their weekends skiing, mountain biking, and exploring everything the great Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Their engagement session at Rattlesnake Lake was the perfect way to spend an evening this spring. All of our April rain paid off resulting in some of the most vibrant greenery I’ve seen here in Washington. Geese trotted across the grass, taking their little ones for their first swim. Brian and Amanda’s dog, Stella, wagged her tail with sheer joy as they rode their mountain bikes down the trail. We chose Rattlesnake Lake for it’s variety of backdrops and also to showcase Brian and Amanda’s love of the outdoors. I feel like it was the perfect compliment to their love and passions. I can’t wait to photograph their wedding in just a few short weeks. With pies, a barn, and maybe even a bluegrass group, it’s sure to be a great time!


Class of 2018 | Spring Senior Ambassadors

Posted in Seniors

I’ve done a lot of work over the last few months revamping our Senior Ambassadors program. It’s not that I didn’t like it before, I am just really excited to have a fresh new program with a more unique experience. In the past, each senior had the opportunity for a free session with me and once they reached three referrals, they got a print collection for free. Now, I am doing three “styled” shoots where the six Senior Ambassadors will have the opportunity to get some really incredible photos to share on social media and work towards getting credit towards their full senior session later in the summer. The first of our shoots was our spring shoot, shot in-studio in downtown Seattle. We had some top hair and makeup artists on set, making each girl look her best. Each girl had a 20-minute mini-session in the studio and then we finished with some fun shots of the whole group. My amazing mother-in-law and hostess with the most, Catherine, provided an amazing spread of food and drinks for everyone to enjoy. We also invited the girls’ parents to the session and I think they really enjoyed getting to watch their daughters be models for the day. This shoot is not typical of the type of shooting I do (I’m typically an outdoorsy, wide open fields and woodsy kinda gal), but it was so refreshing to push my creativity a bit and do something different. My goal with the new Senior Ambassadors program is to give each girl a unique experience that they won’t be able to get anywhere else. We will also be holding a fall and winter session to keep our images fresh and keep working with the girls throughout the school year! It was so much fun to work with these inspiring young ladies. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish!

All hair and makeup by Yessie Libby Makeup Artistry and Arianna Scott

Time to meet our Senior Ambassadors! First up is Catryce from Kentwood High School. She participates in track and cross country at her school and aspires to attend the University of Oregon or Western Washington University. Her dream job is to be a personal trainer, and one day, a stay at home mom.

Next we have Sydney, from Bothell High School. Sydney participates in soccer and track. Sydney is looking forward to filling out college applications and seeing where she ends up. Her dream job would be to work in public relations or advertising for a non-profit.

Introducing Melissa, from Kentlake High School. Melissa is excited to spend her senior year making memories with her friends before everyone goes off to college and we can’t blame her! Her dream job is to work with animals, specifically cats.

Next up is Isha from Skyline High School. She has a few goals before she graduates, one being to intern at some large pharmaceutical or biological lab in the area. She loves biology and her dream job one day would be to be a pediatric surgeon.

Introducing Isabella of Inglemoor High School! Isabella is hoping to travel to Europe with her family again so she can practice her foreign languages. Her goal is to be trilingual before she graduates. So impressive! Bella’s dream job is to be a biology teacher so she can share her love of science with others.

Finally we have Vivian! Vivian was Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen 2016 and has accomplished a lot so far in her life. She participated in running start and was accepted at the age of 16 to the University of Washington! She has a lot of hopes and dreams but a few are to skydive and surf, along with someday maybe starting her own technology startup company!

Check out a few of our shots from behind the scenes at the event. Many thanks to all who helped make this dream of mine a reality!

We are currently offering a special for senior portraits! Book your session by June 12 and receive 25% off. No need to complete your session by then, it’s a buy now, use later type of deal. Email amy@amygalbraith.com for pricing and availability!


Wedding Planning | The Best Wedding Party Photos

Posted in Wedding Planning Tips

pink and grey wedding party in urban setting

A wedding party (also known as a bridal party) is a special way to honor some of your closest friends on your wedding day. Recently I’ve seen everything from 20-person wedding parties to having a best man and maid-of-honor only to having no wedding party. I think your decision to include a wedding party depends on your preferences, how many close friends you have, and also whether you’ve been in a bunch of wedding parties yourself. Personally I loved having a wedding party. It gave me the opportunity to hang out and have support from some of my closest friends on my wedding day.

Next, the photos of course! There seems to be some sort of preconceived notion that you have to duplicate all of the millions of wedding party photo ideas on Pinterest. Jumping photos, headless photos with bouquets, close-ups of shoes and lots of fake laughing, it’s all been done. There are also a lot of ridiculously cheesy options which I personally try to stay as far away from as possible unless a special request is made. There really is a way to walk away from your wedding day with classic photos of your friends that you will love to look back on!

So how do you get great photos with your wedding party? My advice is to do something fun with your group! Do you have lawn games at your wedding? Play some corn hole together! Is there a favorite watering hole nearby? Why not stop and have a beverage together before heading to the big event? I’ve had some of the most fun and captured some of my more unique wedding party photos by using this technique. The more creative idea, the better! I’ve also had groups play in the fall leaves, take a stroll through the city streets and ride chairlifts together. It can be so much fun!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t also take more “formal” photos with your wedding party either. Some of my favorite photos from my wedding are the individuals that I took with each girl. I gifted each of them a print after it was all over thanking them for all of the time and effort it took to support me on my big day. Fun group shots are always popular and you don’t have to do anything super posed or cheesy to capture a great moment.

wedding party photos

Finally, how much time should you allow for wedding party photos? If you are doing a first look, which I highly recommend (see my advice on how to create the perfect wedding day timeline here), you should allow at least 30 minutes for your wedding party photos. If you plan on doing some sort of activity together like heading to a bar or a location that needs driving, an hour is recommended. Really, I think this is all about stepping outside of the typical “wedding box” and following your instincts to create a wedding day that is true to you and your personality! Do you have any ideas for fun activities to do with your wedding party? I’d love to hear them!


Travel | Orcas Island

Posted in Travel

views of puget sound from turtleback mountain preserve

Every year David and I do something awesome for our birthdays. His typically involves some sort of spring skiing trip (last year was Whistler, this year was White Pass) and mine has been a little different each time. This year I had really been itching to get up to the San Juan Islands again. I went to Orcas Island a few years ago with my parents and was lucky enough to see Orcas on a whale watching excursion we took and it was so magical. Two years ago we got to do an engagement session on San Juan Island which was an unforgettable experience. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the San Juan Islands are awesome. I highly recommend making the trek up there if you are visiting the Pacific Northwest.

Getting to the islands is no small feat. From Seattle, you drive 1.5 hours (more if there’s traffic, which there usually is) to Anacortes and catch a ferry to your island of choice. There are several to choose from – Orcas Island, San Juan Island (Friday Harbor), Shaw Island, and Lopez Island. The Washington State Ferries website is super helpful and you can now make reservations which is a total godsend. The ferry ride itself is about an hour which winds you through the very picturesque island-scape and you may even be lucky enough to see some seals or porpoises! Or maybe an orca? I’ve yet to see that from the ferry 🙂

This trip was super special as it was my first birthday trip spent with Banks. It was his first ferry ride and of course first time to the San Juan Islands. The little guy sure does get to travel a lot! While on the island, we stayed at Deer Harbor, the west side of the island. We stayed in a cozy AirBnb with a really killer view! It was so peaceful waking up and drinking coffee out on our patio. If you’re looking for a little more action, Eastsound is a popular location. There are hotels, eateries, and cute boutique shops to peruse.

We even got to do a little hiking while on Orcas Island! For those with a little stamina (or those that don’t have a baby in tow), Mt. Constitution is a great option. We ended up doing some hiking in Turtleback Mountain Preserve which was a shorter hike and more convenient to our location. The views from Ship Peak and the West Overlook were breathtaking. It was the perfect amount of hiking to get our blood flowing and not too long to take our little guy along.

This was the perfect trip for me to get a break from the every day grind. I’ve had a lot of solo time with Banks these days and lots of time to reflect on life as it is now. Being a work-at-home entrepreneur and a mama is freakishly exhausting. Sleep is still limited and interrupted and I’m constantly surrounded with mountains of laundry, diapers to change, dinner to cook, and emails and editing to keep up with. It will only get harder as my season gets busier so it was refreshing to just get away from the constant work for a few days. As long as I can stay focused I can get things done and I’m thankful for my wonderful husband and family nearby to help me keep the boat afloat. While some days I can feel like I’m sinking, I wouldn’t change a thing. Having the opportunity to be at home and celebrate his little milestones as they happen is so rewarding. I know I’m giving him such a gift by being in his presence. Like the other day? He rolled over for the first time and I’m so grateful I was there to see it and capture it. There are a lot of things I could sit back and complain about but in the end I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

panorama views from turtleback mountain preserve's west overlook


JM Cellars Wedding | Cameron & Jennifer

Posted in Weddings

I absolutely love shooting weddings in Woodinville. It is so close to Seattle yet seems like you’re in a completely different country when you’re there. The area has been built up with many gorgeous wineries and has become a destination for us city folk to enjoy. The other wonderful thing about these wineries is that they offer weddings and the grounds of most of the venues are nothing short of breathtaking. I had the privilege of shooting my first JM Cellars wedding this past summer for Cameron and Jennifer. JM Cellars is accessible by a winding road through the woods and it’s easy to just drive right by when you’re on your way down the hill. Once entering the property, you’re greeted by an intimate woodland setting of tall trees arching over the roadway. Just around the corner is JM’s beautiful modern building where delicious wine awaits. I must admit that this venue quickly became one of my all-time favorite wedding venues after shooting there.

Cameron and Jennifer’s wedding day was a perfect Northwest day in July. It actually ended up getting pretty warm and I think all were thankful for the shady trees surrounding the ceremony and reception sites. The entire wedding was outdoors from start to finish. Bistro lights, taper candles, and the stunning floral design of Melanie Benson set the stage perfectly. Jennifer had the idea of putting little glass candleholders in the trees, further accenting the natural magic of the space. Guests enjoyed a family-style dinner and enjoyed time sitting by the fire. This was truly one of my favorite weddings of the summer and I am honored that Cameron and Jennifer chose me to be a part of it!

WEDDING TEAM
Venue: JM Cellars
Wedding Planner: MG Davis Events
Floral Design: Melanie Benson Floral
Catering: Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering
Cake: The Cakewalk Shop
Hair: Salon Divine
Makeup: SK Artistry
Musician: Harold Belskus
Dress Designer: Casablanca
Bridesmaid Dress: J.Crew
Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Bride’s Shoes: Shoes of Prey

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On a somewhat sadder note, the amazing wedding planner that I worked with on this wedding has suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm. Medical expenses are adding up for the family and they are welcoming donations to help with this. Read the story and donate here.


Weddings | The Only Shot List You Need

Posted in Wedding Planning Tips

bride talking to ring bearer at wedding

I’ve been asked many times from my clients if they need a shot list. There are about a bazillion Pinterest posts that provide engaged couples with a list of 101 shots your photographer “must” capture. While I think this can be helpful, I think it’s pretty unnecessary to provide your wedding photographer with an extensive shot list. First of all, your wedding is NOT going to look like any of those weddings you’ve been ogling over on Pinterest. Why? Because your wedding is going to be UNIQUE! Just like you 🙂 Also, every experienced photographer knows the shots that are necessary to make a great photographic story. So a shot list that reads something like “bouquet, bouquet with shoes, dress on hanger, father walking bride down the aisle, etc, etc” is just cumbersome and stressful. Your photographer should be able to arrive at your day and be in the moment with you, capturing details and moments as they come along, not checking off boxes on a tedious shot list.

There is, however, one shot list that you really need. That is, the family portrait shot list. This is the one shot list that I absolutely expect my clients to provide, and for a few reasons.

1) Although I consider myself to be a documentary wedding photographer, I think it’s so important to have formal family portraits captures on your wedding day. It’s one of the few times throughout your life that you’ll have everyone together and looking their best.

2) I don’t know who your family members are. While Uncle Jim may be super special to you, I might not include him on a standard list of family portraits so if you want a picture with Uncle Jim, I should know about it! Also, if you have any separations or divorces in your family, it’s helpful for your photographer to know about it so they aren’t putting people together in a photo that really don’t want to be photographed together. That’s just awkward for everyone!

3) It helps the day run smoothly. I highly recommend setting aside 15-20 minutes right after your ceremony for the family portraits. I know this doesn’t sound like a lot of time but believe me, if I have a list, that’s all I need! Plus, my goal is to get the family portraits finished as soon as I can so that you can go enjoy the rest of your wedding day socializing with all of the special people you invited. Also, doing the photos AFTER the ceremony works better than before the ceremony. Doing them before puts unnecessary time limits on the portrait session and inevitably somebody is going to be running late, especially if they have little ones!

So how should you set up your shot list? First, you need to include names. Since I don’t know who your family members are, it’s helpful if I have a list to work off of that includes names. Second, be sure to keep combinations simple. Having an individual portrait with every family member will take up a lot of time so consolidating some of these is your best bet. Finally, include your significant other in the photos. It seems silly to me when people split the couple up during family portraits. After all, weddings are a joining of two families so why not have your new family member in the portraits? It’s one thing to want a photo of you with just your mom or just you and your parents but keeping your new partner out of all the family portraits might make them feel like they aren’t a part of the family.

Here’s a sample “shot list”. These of course are with a hypothetical family 🙂

* bride and groom with bride’s parents – Steve & Sarah with Joan & Mark
* bride and groom with bride’s parents and siblings, in-laws, grandparents – Steve & Sarah with Joan & Mark, Brett & Jane with Addie, Mable & Ed
* bride and groom with both families – Steve & Sarah with Joan & Mark, Brett & Jane with Addie, Mable & Ed, Dan & Nancy, Matt, Joe & Brianne, Grandma Evelyn
* bride and groom with both sets of parents – Steve & Sarah with Joan & Mark, Dan & Nancy
* bride and groom with groom’s parents – Steve & Sarah with Dan & Nancy
* bride and groom with groom’s parents and siblings, in-laws, grandparents – Steve & Sarah with Dan & Nancy, Matt, Joe & Brianne, Grandma Evelyn

What happens if there are divorces or other complicated family scenarios? The best is to check with each family member and see how they would like the photos set up. Does mom have a new boyfriend and should he be in the photos? If your parents are divorced do you want a photo with them together or separate? Your photographer will be happy to work with you on this and knowing everything in advance will be super helpful so that everything runs stress-free during this time of day. Even if it adds on more shots than the list of above, it is totally worth it to make sure everybody is happy!

If you have a large family and your aunts and cousins want photos with you, my best advice is to do one large group shot of each family rather than breaking things down individually. This will save you lots of time and by this point you’ll be itching to get to your cocktail hour!

My last piece of advice? Be sure to let everyone who is in the formal family portrait session know that they are in the formal family portraits. Sometimes if you are doing a group shot and an aunt or uncle has already run off to the cocktail hour it can be impossible to find them and frustrating for everyone. Another example would be if your sister has a boyfriend and you want him to be in the shots. Sometimes this isn’t a given so be sure to let him know to avoid any awkward moments during this time.

I sincerely hope this is helpful for couples working out their final wedding day details. I’d love to hear any other advice you have on creating the perfect family shot list!


Monroe Senior Photos | Katie

Posted in Seniors

high school senior leaning on fence at a farm

I photographed Katie’s older brother’s Monroe senior photos a couple of years ago at their family’s property. The place is simply stunning with wide open fields, a big beautiful barn, and a quaint little pond. I was thrilled to hear that Katie would be graduating soon and excited to return to their property and photograph her with her beautiful horse Warren. I always think it’s a great idea to incorporate meaningful parts of your life with your senior photos. Whether it be your pet, musical instrument or sports paraphernalia, it makes your senior session even more unique to you! Katie is full of spark, adventure, and hopes to study interior design in California at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I wish Katie lots of success as she finishes her senior year!

We are so excited to announce our Class of 2018 Senior Ambassadors tomorrow! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to find out who the lucky ladies are!


First Family Vacation | Arizona

Posted in Travel

3 month old baby being held up in the palm trees

Life has been pretty crazy these days with a 3-month old. While I feel like I’ve settled into the rhythm of taking care of a baby, it certainly isn’t easy, or predictable. So we thought, why not take a flight? Haha, I’m sure most new parents don’t feel this way but with Banks’ grandma and grandpa out of state, it’s a must. My parents hadn’t seen the little guy since he was only one week old and you can only have so many Skype conversations before you really want to be together in person! So now here we are on the other end of our first flying family vacation with a baby and it feels great! Honestly it was pretty easy. We had chosen evening flights which I would say definitely worked in our favor as he slept nearly the whole time. I could see the look of fear when the person sitting in the window seat saw us setting up shop but little Banks proved to everyone that babies can be great while flying! We even had a layover on our way home, including a delay which put us pulling up in our driveway at 1:30am and we all survived. Thankful we had our Ergo baby carrier to keep him swaying and soothed!

baby sleeping on airplane

Being in Arizona was wonderfully refreshing. We spent days lounging by the pool in the backyard, laying on beach towels and watching palm trees sway, showing Banks the desert flowers and getting our full dose of Vitamin D. And after this lousy spring in Seattle, I can definitely say that we needed it. I got to see my sister, best friend from high school, and other family members who were so excited to meet Banks for the first time. I’ll spare you all the details of everything we did down there and release what you’d rather see instead – adorable baby photos. So hear ya go! Banks looks great in sunny weather, don’t you agree? 🙂