Friday, January 30, 2009

Poor Paz

For the next 8 weeks, Paz will be stuck in her crate and that makes me super sad :( BUT, I am super happy that we were able to figure out what was wrong with our big girl and get it fixed! She had a partially torn ACL (for us human types)...I know it's not really her ACL, but my wife says that's the closest thing that I would know :)

For those of you who don't know the story, I found Paz while I was living in Northern Virginia with my sister and brother in law. On MLK day in 2006, we drove out to the border of Virginia and West Virginia and immediately fell in love with this little girl:

How could you not love that face? Apparently, Paz and 6 of her siblings were found in a deserted house in the West Virginia mountains and Paz was definitely the runt of the litter. So we had to bring her home! Here is Paz's first meeting with her canine cousin, Genius...

And here is Paz meeting her mom for the first time (oh the memories!)!!!

And now here is the big girl all grown up and stuck in her crate for the next 8 weeks. It really does break my heart. Every day since hersurgery, I make it a point to hang out with her for at least 30 minutes and lay near her crate :)

Of course Figgins and Porky need to make sure she's doing okay too!

It's amazing how pets can dominate your life (if you let them, of course) and Brisa and I wouldn't have it any other way. They are our children and we'll do whatever it takes to make sure they are healthy and happy (we're such suckers)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tara & Andy - Attraction

Tara found me through just a general internet search and I could not have been more thrilled! Her and Andy are my first clients who were not directly referred from someone else and I'm super excited because that means my business is growing :)

Anywho, Tara and Andy live in Nebraska and so they wanted to do as much as they could while they were in Manhattan for that day: engagement photos, checking out flowers, cake tasting, etc. They definitely made the most of their trip!

So we met up in the morning at University Gardens and it was a perfect day! Not too cold and not too winter-y :) Immediately, I knew that Tara and Andy would be super fun because they were just so incredibly happy together...always laughing, touching and you could just feel their presence! 

Here's Andy showing off the true model inside of him...

A little bling action...

Tara being her absolutely GORGEOUS self!

My favorite photo of the day...can't you just hear the laughter???

And then we headed over to Tuttle Creek Park and we had to do the obligatory skipping shot (Andy LOVED this by the way)!

To finish out the morning Tara and Andy wanted to show their true colors!

From their first date, Tara and Andy have had a casual and relaxed relationship and I could not help but notice that during our brief time together. They are so comfortable as individuals and as a couple and I strongly believe that that is a characteristic all couples strive to achieve :)

Thanks again you two and I can't wait to see you again in April for your big day! Woohoo!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Barrett & Dey Families

Over the Christmas break, Brisa and I were super excited to visit our awesome friends Natalie and Chris in Simi Valley, CA! Natalie has been such an amazing mentor and friend to Brisa throughout vet school and Chris is essentially the nicest person I know and the best friend anyone could have! Chris is also the mastermind  behind all of my branding: logo, business cards, etc. and so if you ever need a graphic designer...definitely definitely definitely check out his site -!

Chris' parents invited us over for their Christmas family breakfast and we were overwhelmed by their generosity! We drive up to the Barretts' home and it is literally one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen! Everything was just immaculate and the view was breathtaking! No joke, breathtaking. Brisa and I could have sat in their backyard all day, but unfortunately we had to make a 5.5 hour drive home that day :(

Also at breakfast was Chris' sister, Amy, her husband Matt and the newest addition to their family Kimberly who was absolutely adorable! So, being who I am (a photographer through and through), I had to do a mini photo session :)

Kimberly and dad sharing a moment...

Kimberly getting ready for a nap...

The Barrett clan plus in-laws minus the big brother...

This is their view from the backyard. Unbelievable, right? Brisa and I were speechless when we walked outside. Absolutely Ah-may-ZING!!!

A huge thank you to the Barretts for their generosity! Please enjoy the rest of the slideshow from our quick mini session!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hunting in Kansas

In honor of full disclosure, up until I moved to Kansas, I strongly believed that hunting was the stupidest thing ever. Seriously. People with weapons killing defenseless animals. I didn't agree with it. Didn't support it. Didn't really want anything to do with it. I realize that much of my perspective was based on growing up in suburbia and not being exposed to hunting whatsoever, but still...that is how I felt. Fast forward to my time in Kansas and BAM! Everyone is a hunter. In the past three years of being here, I've learned a great deal about hunting: how it works, the seasons, etc. And as a direct result, my interest and respect for hunting has steadily grown. A few friends agreed to take me out to show me how things work and I did my own type of shooting :) I am super appreciative of those guys for putting up with all of my questions and my inexperience.

B. Davis - focused

B. Lacey - surveying the field

T. Wodiske - getting warmed up by going old school - Duck Hunt, baby!

I had a blast! Even though we didn't find anything to shoot, it was just awesome getting outdoors and enjoying some time with the fellas.

Here's my favorite shot from our day...

Not sure if I'll ever be a hunter, but I can't wait to go out again! Enjoy the pictures in the slideshow (especially of the doggies)!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Best Birthday EVER

So yesterday was my 27th birthday. Never in my wildest dreams growing up did I ever think I would be 27. Seriously, who asks themselves....I wonder what I will be doing when I'm 27? 25 - sure, 30 - absolutely, but 27? Never. But I gotta admit, it was my best birthday ever. Better than my 16th when I got my driver's license. Better than my sloppy 21st. Better than my golden birthday. I would say way better than all of those birthdays combined. The only thing that would've made it better would have been having my family around to share it with me :)

At 12:01am on January 25th, Brisa and I started my birthday celebration with a little drive-thru action at Burger King. We went out with some friends earlier that evening and we decided, why not? From the get-go, I was eating on my birthday (there's a theme here)...

We went to church at UCC and then we headed over to Jenna and Travis' place before lunch. When I entered they were playing a Wii! A Wii that my wife and my sisters and brothers (in-law) bought for my birthday! Jenna and Travis hooked me up with Tiger Woods Golf and my wonderful in-laws gave me MarioKart!!! Stinkin awesome!!! I was so pumped! :) 

So we had to play for a little while and then we decided to go to Kite's Bar and Grill for lunch. When I arrived this is essentially what I saw:

I was totally surprised! My sneaky wife and my great friend Mary had planned a little surprise luncheon for me with my friends! But the surprise didn't end there. A few weeks/months ago, I had mistakenly told Mary that it'd be fun to try to Will Ferrell 3 Pound Burger. And for my birthday Mary insisted that I do it. And this is what it looked like:

To give you an idea of the massivity of this thing, here is a picture of Brisa's fist and the Will Ferrell and a regular 1/3 lb burger...

After my first bite, it was all downhill from there...

I got through half of it in about 45 minutes and I was done because a) I didn't want to be sitting there and eating for another hour or so b) I was pleasantly full and I knew if I ate more I would be useless for the rest of the day (had to play some Wii!!!) and c) I'm pretty sure I ate the smaller of the two halves and that scared me a little bit. So this is where I stopped...

The awesome staff still hooked up me with a sweet free shirt though for a good effort (pity prize for sure):

And of course I had to get a shot of the whole crew at the end...

What an awesome, awesome, fantastic, amazing and wonderful day. Seriously, I've never been in a better place in my life than I am right now. A super huge thank you goes out to my gorgeous and lovely wifey who still loves me after all this time. She put a ton of time, energy and love into getting everything together and I definitely wouldn't be where I am mentally, spiritually and emotionally without her. And I love her with all of my heart :)

Special thanks to Travis for being my personal photographer for the day

Thanks again to all who made yesterday my best birthday ever! I could not ask for better family and friends!!! 

Please enjoy the slideshow from the now infamous lunch :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

K-State Vet School Gingerbread House Contest

Every year, students from the various clinical rotations at the vet school participate in a Gingerbread House Contest which evidently becomes more of a rivalry between clinicians than anything else! A decent number of the fourth year students participate (including, my wife, of course) and I was absolutely astounded/amazed/overwhelmed/awestruck/etc/etc by the exquisite details and creativity of the "houses"! With apologies to my wife, my favorite was the horse carousal. Unbelievable! Check out the horses and it rotates too! Plus everything on it was edible! The event even included a secret judge as well as visits by the dean of the vet school and the head hospital administrator! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jenny & Casey - Love in Lawrence, KS

Jenny and Casey introduced me to the gorgeous University of Kansas campus when we did their rockin engagement session way back when :) And so I was extremely excited to meet up with them again for their wedding day! From the very beginning, everyone and I mean everyone was so laid-back and just not stressed about one of the typically most stressful days of a person's life! Seriously, Jenny and Casey were both so at ease with everything...getting dressed, taking pictures, essentially the whole day and after listening to Jenny's father's toast as well as the toasts by the maid of honor and the best man, I knew exactly why: everyone knew how much they loved each other and no ceremony or reception was going to define or label them as a couple. They are truly and deeply in love.

Jenny + Casey = Love through and through

And really there's nothing more to say than that.

Enjoy the slideshow :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Amie & Paul - Love in Manhattan, KS

After our initial meeting at Radina's Coffeehouse, I was super hopeful that I would be able to work with Amie and Paul because they are so easy-going and awesome! When we met for our engagement session and they braved the ridiculous heat and swarming mosquitoes, I knew without a doubt that they are troopers and that their wedding would be a photographer's dream: beautiful couple, laid-back personalities and the willingness to do anything!

And I was right (which doesn't happen too often, just ask my wife). Sarah and I started our morning with the ladies at the salon and from the beginning we got a glimpse of the sweet relationships shared between Amie, her mom and her four sisters! Then, we headed over to the gorgeous First United Methodist Church where everyone ate, dressed and prepared for the big day! We went a little photo happy with Amie, well, because, she looked absolutely radiant! And I doubt anyone will disagree with me! She looked like a princess and she was just so abundantly full of joy that it infected everyone that saw her instantaneously!

The reception was just awesome. Plain and simply awesome :) We busted out a faux photobooth and took some suh-weet pictures of the guests, but we were definitely not prepared for the madness on the dance floor! From the "lawnmower" to "makin it rain", it was literally non-stop laughs, smiles and happiness on the dance floor!!! One of the numerous highlights of the evening was when Amie cleared the dance floor for her sister and her husband to have their "first dance" because they didn't have one at their own wedding. So thoughtful and considerate and so Amie!

Congrats again to Amie and Paul and thank you thank you for opening up your families and friends to Sarah and me! Many blessings to you both!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OpLove - Dexters

Whew. This one was a doozy. I've been talking to Mona for what seemed like months about her husband's homecoming and when the time came, the stars aligned and everything worked out perfectly. The timing of his homecoming ceremony, Sarah and my availability, the weather, just everything was ideal!
And then Sarah and I started driving. We left about 45 minutes early so that we could set up before the ceremony started and we were laughing and joking and having a good time. We pull up to the gate to enter Fort Riley and the military patrolman says that we can't use this gate after hours :( So he gave us directions on where we could go. At this point, we still have plenty of time. I call Mona and let her know what's going on and she apologizes profusely for the mix up. Sarah and I arrive at the other entrance only to find that we need government issued IDs or else we can't get in. Unfortunately, Sarah lost her driver's license earlier that week and so we had to turn around and leave. Now, it's homecoming ceremony time. So I whip the car around and drop Sarah off at the Junction City Walmart (which probably wasn't the best idea, but there was no was I was going to miss the entire ceremony) and sped back to Fort Riley.
After getting through the entrance, I had no idea where to go. I drove around aimlessly for about 20 minutes (after 1) asking the military patrolman for directions and 2) asking a military police officer for directions to no avail), I saw a line of cars leaving one building and I knew that is where I needed to be!
So after reading all of that, you're probably thinking that I missed everything and I am just a bitter grumpy old man! But no! Fortunately for me, the Dexters (Mona, Chris, Tyler, Jake & Garrett) were still there and I was able to grab some candids as well as some posed shots of them before they took off! It was awesome seeing the whole family reunited! You might recognize the Dexters from previous sessions here and here and so I really wanted to be there for them for this momentous occasion!
Welcome home Chris! And thank you for doing all that you do for our country and our freedom!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ellie Jo & Parents :)

My friend Mandy recently had a beautiful baby girl named Ellie Jo and due to Ellie Jo's amazing birth and continuing development (which you can follow here), I offered Mandy a free photo session whenever the time was right for them. So after getting home from the hospital, Mandy contacted me to take me up on the offer and I was ecstatic that she did! Sarah and I made our way over to the Gramkows' apartment and we had a blast hanging out with the Mandy, Ben and Ellie!

You can see from the slideshow that Mandy and Ben are just hilarious together! So complementary and so much in love, it was hard not to laugh with them :) We took a TON of pictures in our short time together because we wanted them to have as many to choose from as possible as well as to keep for themselves! Sarah took a few of the little details shots and some of Mandy and Ben together and I focused on the beautiful blue eyed Ellie Jo! Mandy wanted some Anne Geddes-esque shots and I was happy to do whatever they wanted :)

Congrats to your gorgeous baby girl and Brisa and I will be praying for her continued health and spirit!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Emily & Tony (and Gus) - Attraction

Emily, Tony and Gus. Should really be GUS, emily and tony. He simply stole the show. If I wasn't taking pictures of Gus, he would try to run into the pictures. If I was trying to hold him while taking pictures, he would yank my arm so that the pictures would come all all blurry. If we tied him up, he would make friends with other dogs and draw all sorts of people near us. Gus owned us, literally. And I loved it. Come on, I mean, look how cute and fun he is! How could you not love that face? Seriously!

Recently, I had the sweet opportunity to take pictures of Emily, Tony and Gus at City Park (the home of their very first kiss!) and it was SUH-WEET (yes, i did use "sweet" twice in the same sentence, but spelled differently = all gravy)! I had them jumping, skipping, lying down, dipping, sliding and running around all afternoon (thanks for being so easy to work with)! We roamed around City Park and my favorite shots were the ones taken on the steps and at the little playhouse in the playground. I just love how they look and interact with each other! And please notice Emily's gorgeous eyes! I mean, how could you not notice them, but in case you glazed passed them, do yourself a favor and look at the slideshow again. Absolutely amazing!

Thanks again guys for selecting me as your photographer and best of luck with your Oregon wedding and the rest of your lives together!

Enjoy the rockin slideshow!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ewing Family - Joy

The Ewings are by far my favorite Wamegoans. For those of you don't know where Wamego (or what it) is, here's a nifty map to give you some context. It's the home of the Wizard of Oz Museum as well as probably my favorite Mexican food restaurant in the area, Toto's Tacoz. Yes, that's what it is really called and we still love it!

Any who, back to the Ewings. Why are they my favorite Wamegoans, you ask? Well because they are super cool. They essentially run a B&B for all of their kids, their kids' friends and all of their animals! I met Mary nearly two years ago and our ridiculously sarcastic sense of humor made us fast friends and we've been bantering back and forth ever since!

So during the holiday break, Mary asked if I could take some quick family portraits while all of her children were home and I happily obliged! A supposed 15 minute photo shoot turned into about an hour, but hey, do what you gotta do, right? Based on the photos, you'll notice that the entire family is just hilarious. Always ready with a quick insult or a nasty look, I love hanging out with the Ewings because you just never know what is going to happen next. From JR combing his beard to Mary laughing and crying uncontrollably during a "serious pose", you just gotta love the Ewings. They are some of the most thoughtful and considerate people I know and I am a better person for knowing them :)

Enjoy the quick slideshow!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Resolution

When I first started La Brisa Photography, I wanted everything to be extremely sophisticated and first rate; hence, my blog posts were a little sterile and not very personal. I used "we" and "our" instead of "I" and "my" and I realized that I want people to learn more about me and to get more personal with you! So from now on, I'll be blogging in the first person as I should have done from the very beginning!

You will quickly realize that I:

  • have a ridiculously lame sense of humor (which I owe to my lovely older pregnant sister)
  • use the words "awesome, amazing, beautiful, definitely and gorgeous" many many times (I'm trying to work on that)
  • I absolutely adore sports and pets, especially dogs!
  • I love dining out (terrible for the pocket and for the waist I know, but so much easier than cooking)
  • my faith and my wife and my family are my most treasured things.
Lastly, if you haven't already made a New Year's resolution, try this...write. Start a blog or a journal. As a formal English major, the ability to write well is extremely helpful in any place of your life! And the more you write, the more you become comfortable writing and your true style and tone are found! If you are reading this and you have a blog of some sort, leave me a comment with the link! I am a professional blog-stalker :)

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Niki & Josh - Love in Manhattan, KS

You may recall Niki and Josh from their beautiful engagement session, but the one thing that Sarah and I were not prepared for was how they loved to have fun! Seriously, all throughout the day we were all laughing hysterically as Josh would crack jokes or make fun of his brothers and dad! Can you say hilarious? ....(hilarious, i know you said it again in your head after reading it :)

We spent the morning with the ladies at the Gallery for Hair and then we headed over to the Church of Christ. Ceremony was gorgeous and very much in tune with Niki and Josh's personalties: sentimental, simple and sweet. The highlight of the day was definitely the reception at the Clarion Hotel! Josh and Niki definitely owned the dance floor! From their first dance, to their garter and bouquet toss, to Niki doing some amazing two-steppin with her brother to Josh getting so low that none of his hands or feet were touching the dance floor! Talk about getting down!

Congrats again to Niki and Josh and thanks for selecting La Brisa Photography! Many blessings to you and your future together!

Now please enjoy the slideshow!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

In my first full year of running La Brisa Photography, everything exceeded my wildest expectations. From my equipment collection, to my learning curve of photography, to figuring out how to run a business, to my absolutely phenomenal clients of whom many I consider friends today, to my wonderful familiy and friends, but nothing compares to the support and love of my wife who has given me the strength and the opportunity to succeed. I cannot thank her enough for everything that she has done and the sacrifices she has made in order for me to pursue my passion!

In 2008, there were 9,448 visits to this blog and 5,009 visits to the main site. Unreal. I am totally blown away. Nearly 15,000 people have shown some sort of interest and I am speechless. Never in my wildest imaginations could I have come up with a number like that! For the blog, there were 16,525 total hits and for the main site there were 6,024 total hits. Again, unbelievable. God has truly blessed me with photography and I am so pleased that I am able to share it with so many of you!

I am super excited about 2009! The most exciting aspect for this upcoming year is that I have taken on an assistant photographer, Sarah of and she has been shooting with me for several weddings, engagment and family sessions already! She has an amazing eye for photography and I truly believe she is well on her way to becoming one of the best photographers in Kansas. Seriously, her natural ability is THAT awesome! Check out her site and take advantage of her lower rates during her initial startup because they definitely will not last long!

Happy New Year everyone and thanks again for all of your love and support of La Brisa Photography!!!

p.s. i'll be blogging a TON of sessions soon!