Striking Silver Valley Gold

Kira and Matthew are self-proclaimed “laid back, goofy people” who wanted a fun, casual, stress-free wedding.

What they got was pretty much inline with their want list, with a mix of Matthew’s Star Wars fanaticism, a few heat-related issues, and a lot of great moments with their family and friends that would start at the groom’s church and end at the Shoshone Golf Club with it’s amazing landscape.

The moments in between those milestones were what made the day for me as a photographer. The bride and groom decided on doing a “no look, first look” where they were positioned back-to-back and then surrounded by their friends and family for a group prayer. Goofy photos of the wedding party in various stages of Star Wars inspired poses, and children that wanted to photo bomb every formal image they could rounded out a fun pre-ceremony schedule. But once we got to the ceremony, those were some of the moments that Matthew and Kira will cherish the most.

Finally getting to see the bride for the first time was the biggie for Matthew.

“After doing the prayer before the service, all I wanted was to finally see her.”

“Seeing Matthew’s face the first time he saw me … he had tears in his eyes.”

Following the ceremony, we were blessed with a great sunset and enough time to enjoy a quick getaway from the reception activities.

It was definitely one of those days where all the planning, communication, and collaboration paid off with a great visual story and no stress.

Here are a few tips and tricks Kira and Matthew have for couples planning a wedding:

  1. Decide to not stress on the day of the wedding. Stress up until the day but not on the day because there is nothing you can do about it.
  2. Get as much as done as you can ahead of time. So many random things pop up the week before the wedding.
  3. Have an abundance of Gatorade and water for the day of the wedding — especially if its a hot day.
  4. Have snacks! (crackers, cheese, grapes)
  5. Take a couple ibuprofen every 2-3 hours.

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A New Spokane Family Engagement Session

Katie and Dan contacted me regarding their upcoming wedding and how they wanted to include Dan’s son in their engagement photos to show the building of their new family.

During our consultation we began discussing the wedding details and all the planning and thoughts that go with that. When we moved onto the engagement session discussion, we were basically going for two separate session back-to-back — one with Ethan (Dan’s son) and the one with just Katie and Dan.

Wandering through Riverfront Park with Ethan and hitting up the playground ended up being a great way to spent the first part of the afternoon. Then an adventurous tour of Bowl & Pitcher State Park scaling rocks, and falling logs, and enjoying the spring flowers in bloom was a great way to finish.

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Light Up Your Reception

As a photographer, light is everything to my work. Without light, there is no work. But this is especially true when it comes to wedding receptions.



Often time lighting isn’t even a thought for the reception. Maybe a reception venue is selected because they have massive chandeliers, or cool windows. But depending on what you want your reception to eventually evolve into, that may not be enough.

Have you ever been to a club, the music is great, the crowd is awesome, but all the house lights are on? Me neither. It’s usually not until closing time the house lights come on because that signals the end of the night. Also know as, “the party is over.” You don’t want that for your reception until the party is actually over.


And for my work, if a room is lit by house lights and nothing else, there are two end results:

1). It’s either going to be way too dark, and I’ll have to rely on studio lights and flashes as the only dominate source of light for the images

2). It’s going to be bright, but void of all character and mood

Bartz-Williamson Wedding-0835


Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be about the uplighting and chandeliers. I went to a wedding last summer that was a full on redneck wedding — it’s exactly what the couple wanted. And what redneck event isn’t complete without a bonfire. That bonfire add so much atmosphere and mood to the reception images. It gave it a warmth and when a moment between the bride and her father unfolded in front of it, it became one of my favorite shots — as well as the brides.


A good idea is to talk with your venue or DJ about what lighting options available. Do this while on a site visit to get an idea of what it’ll look like without additional lighting, and what it can look like and the cool tricks that can be done with the additional lighting.

The lighting can do a lot for a room big or small. It can set the mood for a room by adding drama, elegance. The addition of creative and colorful lighting is also good for creative shots whether it’s candids or portraits.


Thomas Shaw with Traks DJ Service is very knowledgeable when it comes to helping couples decide on lighting options for their reception and how to ensure the reception fits the style and mood that’s you’re looking for.

What’s the biggest misconception about additional lighting at receptions?

That it is a waste of money and that it is not needed. 

Where does lighting get used most?

Mostly on the dance floor where people are dancing. 

What are some of the more creative ways you’ve seen lighting used at receptions?

One of my favorites it hooking all the up-lighting around the room together and making the whole room change on demand. When it comes time to dance, you can make the entire room bounce to the beat of the music. 

What’s the price range for additional lighting?

It all depends on what you are looking for, but I have seen pricing start at as little as $200. 

Does lighting pose any additional hazards? If so, how are those alleviated?

Some people are sensitive to flashing or flickering lights that cause migraines and seizures. It’s a good idea to find out if someone on your guest list has any problems with these sensitives.

When should couples start planning their lighting schemes for the reception?

Once you have colors picked out for your wedding and a good idea on the wedding reception layout. 

Do you have any additional tips or insight into reception lighting?

Less is more. You can easily go over the top with you lighting and then it looks like a train wreck. If done right, you can really change the whole ambiance of a room just by adding some simple lighting.

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