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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In Tandem, Wedded Bliss

What do you get when you mix two passionate people who believe in serving the public for the greater good, a Christian-Jewish combined wedding ceremony, a crew of hardcore-dancing-singing-air guitaring guests, and a tandem bike? Kaarin and Andrew’s wedding day which started out easy and slow paced, and ended easy and off the chain.

The entire morning was a nice, steady morning. No rush. No fuss. Everyone was hanging out and relaxing, taking their time. The real work, as with any wedding, starts with the family photos. But with a well-orchestrated plan, a list of names arranged like a batting order, and a “bulldog” to help wrangle everyone, it went like clockwork.

We moved onto the ceremony, and that’s where this wedding had a twist. Andrew’s family is Jewish. Kaarin’s family have been part of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Spokane for decades. Pastor Eric Dull did a solid job of mixing each of the religious traditions into the ceremony. Some readings, a few scripture references, a glass stomping, and a solid mazel tov to send the newlyweds on their way.

As I found out during our engagement session, Kaarin and Andrew are a lot of fun and very easy to work with. I find a scene and just let them do their thing. It’s very comfortable and afforded some nice moments too.

Kaarin and Andrew put a lot of planning into their wedding day to ensure every guest had a good time.

“Besides making sure we threw a great party (which meant booze, laid back food, and great music), we probably spent the most time on the ceremony. It was very important to us that we created a ceremony that spoke to us and our love, but also one that was approachable to the various religious backgrounds there. We brought in both Jewish and Christian traditions, but we also wanted something that was meaningful for those who weren’t religious. We got a lot of positive remarks about the ceremony afterwards, so I think it worked!”

Once we arrived at Chateau Rive, these two had a warm welcoming, a quick break to grab a bite to eat, do a little hula hooping, visit with friends, then it was off to start the reception festivities which was the only relaxed part of the evening. After that, pure energy from the crowd thanks to Thomas Shaw from Traks DJ Service. I don’t believe that dance floor was ever close to having fewer than 50 people on it all night. And when someone’s “jam” came on, it was hardcore lip syncing, crazy air guitar, and lots of dance-induced sweat and hair everywhere.

One thing these two weren’t expecting was the sheer overload they faced when coming into the reception.

“Everyone told us how intense it would be be having so many friends and family in one place, there just for you. Heeding all of these warnings, we thought we’d be prepared for it, but walking into our reception space after taking some sweet photos outside with Jerome for a couple of hours was truly overwhelming and emotional.”

By the end of the night, Kaarin and Andrew hopped on their tandem bicycle and rode off into the darkness on their way to their hotel.

Besides booking their wedding on the weekend of Gonzaga’s graduation ceremony, which meant a lack of hotels, Kaarin and Andrew has these tips for brides and grooms who are planning their weddings …

Continually remind yourself of the purpose of the day, whatever that is to you. To us, it was making sure we shared our love with our friends and family, and creating a fun space to celebrate that love. The purpose of the day was not to make really pretty centerpieces. I tried to only let myself stress about things that were central to our purpose, hence why we spent the most time on the ceremony and the party.

Church: St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
Reception Venue: Chateau Rive at The Flour Mill
Rings: Fancy
Make-Up: The Make-Up Studio
Hair: Rae’s Beauty Salon
DJ: Traks DJ Service
Caterer: Red Rock Catering
Cake: Lindaman’s
Dress: The Wedding Bell

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