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It’s funny I have done over 300 weddings and have always felt that you really know a person after shooting their big day. I was so wrong. Something beautiful happens when all the decorations go away, no need to impress guest, and a couple just has time to explore the world and the things they love. Couples completely raw in their element, no work, having life changing experiences. Mark Twain said ‘I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.’

Last month I shot my first honeymoon! It was the most amazing, life changing experience that I could imagine. I followed Marisa and Phil for 6 days around New Zealand. I saw the groom with so much joy that he giggled like a 4 year old girl (and this is a guy with muscles and tattoos), I also saw him get really sad over pancakes. These moments, were raw, and simply beautiful. I was the ultimate third wheel on Valentine’s day… literally being on someone else’s honeymoon, but wow, there was no where else in the world I would rather be. Marisa is a vet who loves animals, and we got to swim with thousands of acrobatic dusky dolphins, it was so beyond beautiful. I saw the bride with so much joy, that her smile literally looked like it wanted to jump off her face, while wild dolphin jumped around her. Phil owes a climbing gym, and I got to not only hang with my Nikon D4s, but I literally got to hang and get some climbing in! That camera not only went cliff side, it camped with us, and went underwater with us.

Marisa pulled a camera out the last hour I was with them (which I thought was strange since I hadn’t seen it until then), she turned to me and said… “I have to get a photo of you”. That made me so happy. Not only did they get to really enjoy these moments without worrying about capturing them, but I had become part of the story. I just love these two, and am so happy that they feel like they are now friends for life. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for trusting me and for being so freakin awesome! I love you guys and hope you love the pictures as much as I loved taking them!

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Kristi2
As I fly back home to the Dulles airport, I can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed. Monday at around 3:30 I sat in my hotel room at the Valley Ho Hotel in the middle of Scottsdale Arizona. My makeup was done, my slides were finished, my laptop was packed and ready, I was ready. I was onto my second cup of hot tea to try and calm my nerves. It helped, but not enough….I sat alone and just cried. I cried for multiple reasons, one being that one of my biggest fears is public speaking. More powerful was just being so full of joy, pride, love and excitement… my path over the last couple years have been hard for me, really hard, and instead of crumbling I worked. Worked on my health, worked on my photography…and now I was about to speak about my journey to others. I was about to get personal, really personal (with my talk called “its personal”…imagine that) on a stage in front of leaders in our industry, some crazy badass photographers that I highly admire. I grabbed my bag, checked the mirror and cursed out loud…damn mascara had run and I looked a bit like a hot mess.

I am new to speaking at conferences in the industry, this was my first, and for being so green, I am really proud of myself. I put my heart and my all into my presentation. When I got asked to speak, I started going to public speaking groups. I worked with this amazing group of toastmasters since March. I know I still have a long way to go with public speaking and a few people pointed out that I smiled way too much on stage and that they could tell my heart was beating crazy fast from my breathing. The adrenaline from fear and excitement is crazy up there.

While I have a long way to becoming a strong public speaker, something unexpected happened. A couple of people came up to me after I got off stage with tears in their eyes. Telling me that my story gave them strength. As the week went on photographers kept coming up to me sharing their stories of projects they want to do and ways they want to give back. These stories were all so unique and beautiful in their own way. I have always believed that people shouldn’t just be consumers of this earth, that people should do something to help this beautiful world. Photographers are visual story tellers and artist, so it puts us in a great place to make an impact (I put that into my personal projects part of my speech).

I am so grateful to new and old friends (and especially those that flew across the states to support me). I am so grateful to everyone that opened up to me over the last 4 days. All the stories really touched my heart! This world is a crazy beautiful rollercoaster, definitely not boring right 🙂

The feeling of possibly helping at least one photographer do their own project to give back…and the feeling of possibly helping someone find strength in the hard times…it makes me feel great. This opportunity to speak, I will forever be grateful for. Thank you Huy and Fearless for taking the chance on me and giving me my first experience speaking at a photography conference. The Fearless photography community has pushed me to be a better photographer, and this speaking opportunity….has truly made my life better! I have new friends that I feel will be in my life forever, and old friends that I grew a lot closer. My heart is filled with so much joy right now.
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A giant thank you to Ken Pak for the photos, definitely a day I want to remember 🙂