Category: Blog

Enironmental Landcaper portrait
Ready for Anything
Yes we shoot weddings! We also do environmental portraits and senior portraits. In this case my wife needed environmental portraits of the crew at Ethos Landscape. They were working in a yard nearby and the wanted some portraits of them actually doing what they do. It was a really hot sunny August day with the mercury pushing towards 100 degrees! Always ready to go, I grabbed my cameras and a few lights and headed out to shoot Khalana, Drew, Derrick, and Cody digging in the dirt. How does this tie into wedding photos and senior portraits? We can make great photos in almost any conditions. Even in the blazing heat and the awful light o ...
groom laughs as he dances with his bride for the first time
Avoiding Disaster in Fort Collins
Jamie held it together like no bride I've known. She watched as the skies over the Fort Collins Marriott threatened to dump rain on her wedding day. Then rumors of a tornado warning circulated the hotel room where she and her bridesmaids primped for the ceremony. I even overheard someone worry about the integrity of the dam that held Horsetooth Reservoir's water back from flowing into the prairie where the ceremony would be. Such was the atmosphere as I photographed this stoic bride on one of the biggest days of her life. It was only when the rain came - and it came in buckets - that she let her tears fall. I heard the rain before I saw it ...
wedding portrait
Jamie and Chris Casual in Fort Collins
There were a few frightening and tense moments as the skies over Fort Collins opened up dropping buckets of rain and hail to the near continuous rumble of thunder. There were even tornado warnings. Miraculously it only sprinkled a bit at the venue and the ceremony and reception went off with out a hitch for Jamie, Chris and their two-year-old son Cole. We had a great time at the outdoor wedding near Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. The venue was the backyard of family friend Junior Garza and they couldn't have picked a better spot. There was a wooded area for photos, plenty of space for kids to play and a dance floor and two cove ...
DIY Wedding Details
You you might get the impression that we aren't fans of detail photos, especially if you've read our recent blog post Spare Me the Details. It's true, we would rather shoot people than inanimate objects - that comes from years of telling visual stories as photojournalists. But, when it comes to some weddings like the one we shot for Amy and Aaron that included so many unique touches, we can't help ourselves. Amy created many of the things you see in the photos from the bouquets and boutonnieres fashioned from french magazine text and pheasant feathers to signage that peppered the reception tent, helping to guide guests through the event. E ...
Engagement Session with a 2 Year-Old
When does a free engagement session turn into a family photo session? When a 2 year-old comes along! Jamie and Chris will be getting married soon and before we shoot the wedding they wanted to include their son Cole in the engagement session. No problem! Chris and I are both parents, one of my kids is two and we also do family portraits. So we both know how to work with small children and frankly really enjoy them. They are however always a wild card. The thing about kids and especially little ones is that no matter what is going on around them, in their minds they are the priority. Cole was acting every bit his age, so what are w ...
DIY Done Right: Amy and Aaron’s Wedding
I come from a long line of DIYers. My family is known for putting things together on a shoestring budget, not only to stretch a dollar but to look back at a well-planned event with a sense of accomplishment. Such was the feeling I got as I photographed Amy and Aaron's DIY Country Wedding. Amy did a fantastic job creating her own bouquets and decorations and Aaron made sure her vision was carried out as planned. Eric and I knew going into it that it would be a photogenic affair at Stillroven Farm but it's always good to see just how the plans manifest on the busy day. I was tasked with photographing the groom before the event so I arrived e ...
Bride runs in the country
DIY Country Wedding: Amy and Aaron
Ever been to a wedding with gun play? Amy and Aaron had a shotgun wedding of a different sort.  The bride and groom met while working at the then Colorado Division of Wildlife and their courtship played out in duck blinds, camouflaged turkey calls and in the fruitless pursuit of elk for their freezer. So it should be no surprise that they decided to marry at a private pheasant hunting reserve. The rustic beauty of Stillroven Farm made a great backdrop for the country style wedding. Amy and Aaron exchanged vows under a snow ball bush on the farm house lawn, then walked over to one barn to shoot portraits, then to another barn for the BBQ di ...
Medieval Games and Weddings
A long time ago, way before I became a photojournalist or a wedding photographer I was asked to shoot a Medieval wedding. I jumped at the chance. The only caveat was that I had to dress the part. I didn't mind. Dressing up as a Medieval monk seemed more appealing than donning a suit and tie. And the outfit doubled as a Jedi costume for the next Halloween. Recently, I was asked to photograph another Medieval event - this time the Waldorf School Medieval Games. My daughter, Sequoia, is a 4th grader who goes to Shepherd Valley Waldorf School and this event is a rite of passage for the 6th graders at all the regional Waldorf schools. Student ...
photo of barn through fence.
Engagement Portrait Scouting
Eric and I have scoured the corners of Larimer and Boulder Counties while on assignment for the various papers we worked for. It always surprises me that while scouting for engagement photo locations, we always seem to run across a place that's familiar but seems startlingly fresh. While scouting around Horsetooth Reservoir I was reminded of the many feature hunts I went on while at the newspaper in Loveland. Photographers were often sent out to come up with a pretty photo to fill a hole in the paper. These photos usually had little news value, but they were always fun to look at and made the reader think about their world a bit differentl ...
Bride looks at wedding venue
Scouting the Wedding Venue
Do you have a vision for what your wedding will be? Does your photographer share your vision? Has he/she shot at the venue before? Every bride has a vision for what her wedding will be and we at Stark Bellamy want to see the venue through your eyes. Whenever possible we like to visit the wedding venue with the bride and groom. Even if we have shot there before we like to be on the same page with the stressed er.... happy couple. There is always a lot going on as you approach your wedding day, but I think it is very important that you tour your chosen venue with your photographer. Chris and I don't like to be too involved in the pl ...
bridal party walking along snowy path
Location, Location, Location
Probably the most important decision around planning your wedding day is picking the perfect location. We have shot weddings on mountain tops in Estes Park and at recreation centers in the city. And, at the end of the day, no matter where the marriage happened, the happy couple loved their photos. Either way, taking the time to think about how photogenic the location can really help when selecting the right venue. Eric and I love photographing mountain weddings. The light is plentiful, the scenery is amazing and we both spend a lot of our free time in the great outdoors anyway, so the more the better. Couple that with a group of happy peop ...
invitations during ceremony
Spare Me the Details
The devil is in the details, right? OK, maybe not in this case. But, if you looked through our galleries, you may notice that we don't have a lot of wedding detail photos. Why, you may ask? Here's the deal: we think, and I hope you'll agree, that the most important part of any wedding are first and foremost the bride and groom, then their family and friends. We would rather be shooting the people involved in the wedding than the stuff on the tables. There are several reasons why we don't show a whole bunch of details. First, we like people. The best photos from any wedding are the candid moments and emotions that happen naturally. ...
couple listens to officiant during ceremony
5 Factors to Consider for Ceremony Time
There are many things to consider when planning your wedding ceremony, two of the big ones is what time to have it and which direction to face. These of course effect where the sun will be, the temperature as well as mountains and other landmarks will be in the photos. While Chris and I don't like to be involved in such decisions (it is your wedding we just document it), here are some factors to consider that way effect photography and your guests: 1. Weather: The weather in Colorado is predictably unpredictable. In a normal year (non drought) we may have afternoon thunderstorms that can be quick and pretty or long gully washers. If ...
lesbian couple holds civil union certificate
Witness to History: A Joyful Room
As a journalist I have been in many places were people are happy and having a good time. The same with shooting weddings; there is a room full of happy people because two people they love were just joined in marriage. Now imagine that there where hundreds of couples all of whom had been waiting for years and even decades to join hands, exchange rings and sign their names. That was the scene in the Webb Municipal building in Denver on Tuesday night as the clock ticked towards midnight, May 1st and civil unions. The atrium buzzed with energy as couples filled out their application and waited to go through the process before standing in front of ...
Witness to History: Bridging two Worlds
I kept checking in with myself throughout the night and into the wee hours of May 1. I asked myself: "What is my role? Why am I here?" For years I've covered events similar to Wednesday's event in which the first Civil Unions recognized by the State of Colorado took place. Seldom have the past events affected such a large swath of the community. And, for the first time I was not covering an event for a news organization. Finding a Way to Bridge Two Worlds Amidst the Joy of Civil Unions Here's how it has gone historically for me: I make a photo. I smile and walk up to the subject and ask for their name and some more pertinent info that goes ...
same sex couple cake in face at reception
Witness to History: More Details on Our Civil Union Coverage
Eric and I have been stoked by the reaction to our most recent post about our coverage of the May 1 Civil Union events in Denver. We know there are a lot of passionate people out there but when our original post started to go viral, we knew we had struck a chord. Rather than wax poetic about how much we love covering events like this or how a group of people is finally getting closer to a basic civil right - Eric eloquently spoke about that in his first post - this one will be more informative about how we plan to execute our coverage. We hope to be at the McNichols Civic Center Building early on the evening of April 30 to see what's going ...
Civil union gay couple portraits
Witness to History: Civil Unions in Colorado
One of the main reasons we got into photojournalism was a desire to be there when the world changed. We were born after the civil rights movement and too young to be there when the Berlin Wall fell and Communism died, but these moments, frozen and preserved by amazing photographers, were the reason that Chris and I got into the news business. We wanted to to be part of those moments and document them, now we have a chance to witness Civil Unions in Colorado. Civil Unions are not marriages but it is a step in the right direction, the walls are coming down and even though we are now primarily wedding photographers there will always be that ...
leather wedding album cover
Gorgeous New Albums
"The new phone books are here!" The new phone books are here!" Ooops I meant wedding albums, I am just so excited. OK it is not as cool as a new phone book, but we are pretty stoked for our new sample album that arrived this week. The black leather and debosed "Stark Bellamy Photography" cover, the heavy lay-flat pages and the gorgeous photos just ooze class! It looks really good and here's why; we are former newspaper guys, we love to see our photos in print. They may look good on a monitor but there is just something special about holding them in your hand. The photos become more real somehow, they come to life. Putting photos o ...
photo of MacBook Pro with Album layout
Creating the Stark Bellamy Wedding Album
Stark Bellamy Photography is moving into uncharted territory and we're excited for the opportunity. We recently booked a booth at the Bridal Festivals show in Loveland and the preparations for the show have been fun and challenging. For the booth we've opted for the minimalist approach to suit our photojournalistic style. Simplicity allows the photos to speak for themselves. Of course, we love talking about what we do so we'll be more than happy to discuss our storytelling style with you. One of the things we're most excited about is the wedding album we just purchased as a sample for the show. We've stepped it up with this one offering la ...
best man helps groom with tie in mirror
Wedding Photographer as Observer
Have you ever been to a wedding and seen the photographer interrupting the action to pose a photo? Moving people to fit his or her idea of a wedding photo. Did that interfere with a conversation, a quiet moment or a round of shots? Yeah, that's not us. We have tossed around the the expression fly-on-the-wall at Stark Bellamy Photography but what do we really mean by that? We observe and photograph. In our newspaper days we were ethically bound not to interfere with whatever it was we were photographing. That means that we quite literally would have lost our job if we told someone to pose a certain way or to "pretend" to do something. ...
Staying Sharp with Red Rocks Easter Sunrise
Sometimes the phone rings and it's not a potential bride or groom looking for a photographer but a voice from our past. An editor from a newspaper or magazine phones us to cover an event or illustrate an article for a magazine. We usually jump at the chance to mix things up a bit. My good friend Gabriel Christus who works for Evergreen Newspapers, called to ask me to fill in for him while he vacationed in Costa Rica. I have a soft spot for the newspaper group. My journalism career began as a freelancer for Evergreen Newspapers doing work for their group of papers: the Canyon Courier, Columbine Courier, High Timber Times and Clear Creek Cou ...
Groom cries at wedding
My Personal Destination Wedding Experience
Last week I started telling the story of my beach wedding in Costa Rica and we had just about arrived the ceremony. I'm going to back up a bit her for a minute and explain how we handled the planning of everything from the flowers to the cake and most importantly the guests. Way back in 2006 there was no Facebook, iPhone or Android and email was still spotty in Puerto Viejo. The electricity would go out fairly regularly and when it was on, people did not check Facebook or their computer regularly like they do now. Not to mention that the Costa Ricans live on Tico Time, which basically means everything moves a lot slower. This can be aggr ...
Quality Wedding Photography…Versus Quantity
How many photos do you shoot during a wedding? We get this question a lot. And the answer is usually in the thousands depending on the time our client wants us to invest in their wedding day. The answer usually generates a surprised look and a "wow" from the questioner. The second question is usually how many do you give the couple. This answer often has the same reaction. Eric and I shoot a lot. At a recent wedding our frame count numbered somewhere around 3,000-4,000 photos. Why so many? The day is filled with little moments. So much is happening. We might take 20, 50 or 100 photos of each moment we're witnessing. We're constantly shoo ...
Kiss on Costa Rica Beach
Personal Wedding Experience
Personal experience counts when it comes to wedding photography. Chris and I have talked about our photographic experience quite a bit, but we haven't talked at all about our individual weddings. A wedding is one of the biggest moments in your life, it is when you commit yourself to one person for the rest of your lives. It is second only to having children. My wife Khalana and I decided to go big and small all in one destination wedding in Costa Rica. Khalana and I had lived together for several years before I proposed. It was a forgone conclusion that we were going to be married, but we still hadn't committed to a date let alone a ...
Photo Booth – Shepherd Valley Waldorf School Auction
What happens when you give people beer and margaritas and dress them up like farmers. In this case good photos. I was asked to do a photo booth at he annual auction for Shepherd Valley Waldorf School where my daughter, Sequoia, is a 4th grader. I had never done a photo booth before and was a bit hesitant but I was excited to see the results. It was a way for us to test the waters before offering a photo booth service to clients. I even convinced Eric, twisting his arm with auction dinner offerings by the likes of Salt, Colterra,Black Cat Bistro and Zucca Italian Ristorante. I thought it was a bust at first. We offered two sessions: o ...
colorado governor john hickenlooper
We Believe in Love
Senate Bill 11 is headed to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to sign, making civil unions legal in Colorado. Chris and I hope that the Governor does so, taking the next step towards full marriage for same sex couples. We believe that people are people and that love cannot be defined or categorized. We believe that anybody has the right to live with, marry, or do what ever they like, with the person they love. If that couple is African American, Hispanic, white, Asian, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or cisgender or any combination, they have the right to be happy and be protected by the same laws that protect everybody else. We a ...
Unique Streets and Weddings: Part Deux
I was nervous. Eric took the east side of Broadway in Denver and I took the west. It was a different kind of decision than who gets to cover the bride and who gets the groom. For some reason I had that same feeling I did back in college on my first assignment to photograph someone I didn't know. Unlike weddings, when people are dressed to the nines and happy and expect to be photographed, street photography is about blending in and secretly photographing people when they are unaware to hopefully reveal a larger truth about the scene in which the subject finds itself. Yeah, I was nervous. I had become good at street photography while workin ...
Mirrored glasses smokes in front of Broadway restaraunt.
Unique Streets and Weddings
Half a day on south Broadway and not one bride! We looked and looked but nothing so we just decided to take photos of the people and architecture in one of my favorite parts of Denver. Actually, Chris and I spent the whole winter hunched over our computers building and launching the new Stark Bellamy Photography site and we needed to shoot some photos for the sake of fun and nothing else. No rules, no goal, just go take some cool photos and enjoy the simple art of it. We both agreed that a day in Denver, and ultimately on Broadway, would be fun and a great way to stay sharp for shooting the coming wedding season. The best part of street ph ...
bride and groom kiss on beach
Destination: Your Wedding
Eric and I need a vacation. Even though we are far from the busiest part of our year our thoughts are turning to sand beaches and balmy breezes. This isn't to say we feel overworked - we're just feeling the itch to travel and shoot. Each of us has shot beaches weddings - Eric even got married on a beach - so it's not uncharted territory for us. We are often asked if we shoot destination weddings. The answer, whether you're getting married on Clearwater Beach in Florida or the beach in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico, is a definite yes. It must be the adventurous side of us but we love to travel and work. There's something about traveling to an ...
bride in elevator
Just a Light Bulb or a Bright Idea?
As I mentioned in my Beware the Flasher post some times the only light available is either on camera flash or a few weak little light bulbs. Here is another place where the light source separates the professional wedding photographer from Uncle Frank. It is putting it politely to say that most wedding photographers are not fond of incandescent light (most light bulbs). It is generally dim and its color temperature is really orange. The latter can be compensated for or fixed in post production but low light is low light. Despite the issues we have with them they can create some dramatic effects. In a dark room they leave little ...