Ali and Matt’s Wedding 11.03.12

Is there anything more nerve wracking than photographing another wedding photographer’s daughter’s wedding? I think NOT! When my good friend and fellow photographer Catherine Golden asked me if I would photograph Ali’s wedding, I think I must have asked her, “Are you sure?”

Ali and Matt met at the University of St. Thomas. According to her dad’s toast, the very first time Matt came to the Golden’s house, her dad¬†looked at him and said, “WOW – you two would make pretty babies!” This was a very astute observation; they could pose for the cake topper bride and groom ūüôā

The beautiful couple, the church (Hennepon Avenue Methodist), the reception at Golden Valley Country Club and all the fabulous extra touches that Ali and her mom worked on for the past year made for a spectacular wedding. I can honestly say this has been the year for out-of-this-world weddings. I have been a very happy wedding photographer in 2012!

Ali and Matt were very good sports: They posed outdoors for many photos both at the church and at Golden Valley CC.¬† It was a very COLD day, but at least the predicted rain did not fall. They and their friends were so happy and ready to party, I don’t think they even noticed the temperature! Here are some of the fun pics from the day. And I broke my rule of only putting 20 photos on the blog…

None of these guys needed any coaxing to ham it up!
BIG wedding party!
Nick and Ali Golden await the “big walk” down the aisle
A beautiful venue for a wedding. This is Hennepin Avenue United Methodist church in downtown Minneapolis.

The plan was that only the wedding party and family would stay afterwards to blow bubbles and cheer on the exiting couple. Surprise: most of the guests stayed!

Golden Valley Country Club is a perfect site for a large wedding reception. It spaciously accomodated their 300 guests.

The maid of honor’s mom, Gretchen, made this amazing cake that tasted as good as it looked.

Portland Oregon / October 2012

Jack and I spent 4 days in October visiting Portland. (I had previously¬†only been in the airport, so it weakly counted as a state I’d visited).¬† Everyone had exclaimed¬†what a beautiful area it is, and we were lucky to get four sunny warm days to play tourist. By staying in the suburb of Beaverton, we were approximately one hour to the coast and about 79 miles to Mt. Hood, east of Portland.

Portland is on the Oregon/Washington border, which is separated by the Columbia River. Within minutes of leaving Portland, you are in dense pine forests leading to the Pacific coast, or hilly scenic Cascade Mountain range foothills heading east to Mt. Hood, which towers majestically over the city.

Portland is a quirky, artsy, smallish big city. We laughed at the bumper stickers proclaiming “Keep Portland Weird”. It seems that many hippies from the 60’s have made Portland home. Old VW vans are everywhere! The people seemed very laid back and friendly. The city speed limit of 25 mph and highway 55 mph limit drove us crazy while we were there, but it seems to be a reflection of the culture. ¬†No one seems to be in much of a hurry. Jack is¬†planning to move to Portland next year. He chose our restaurants each evening in neighborhoods that he was interested in researching. We had the BEST dinners!

Our second day was spent driving to the coast and stopping at Seaside and Cannon Beaches. Seaside has a 2 mile long promenade. We strolled along, enjoying local (what else?!) coffee. After walking the beach and photographing the monoliths, including the gigantic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, we ate lunch at a charming cafe. There is also a puffin colony and many protected tide pool areas there. On the drive south along the Coastal Highway, we stopped at Tillamook to do a self-guided tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We sampled the cheese (which I had just bought at our Burnsville Costco at half the price ha ha!)

Monday was Mt. Hood day. Just east of Portland, you follow the Columbia Gorge¬†along I-84.¬†Only ten miles down the road, you come to Multnomah Falls, the second tallest year-round waterfall in the country. We ate a HUGE breakfast at the Multnomah Lodge, with the waterfall as our backdrop. Highly recommended! Then onward towards Mt. Hood. We erroneously followed some messed up signs and ended up at the top of Larch Mountain. We were the only ones there and decided to take the short hike to see if there was a good view. OMG: we were “ON¬† TOP OF THE WORLD”!! You could see the entire Cascade Mountain range: they are all volcanoes, including the recently erupted Mt. St. Helen. Our “mistake” ended up being the highlight of the trip, we decided.

Our final destination that day was Mt. Hood. At 12,000+ feet, it is the tallest mountain (volcano) in Oregon. We drove up up up to the Mt. Hood Lodge at 7,000 feet, a popular ski area. We had determined we were going to do the 2.5 mile trail there. The guidebook described it as “easy”. The hotel clerk looked dubious and said it was “moderate”. She gave us some sketchy directions and off we went. We repeatedly lost the trail and trudged¬† vertically straight UP in ankle deep sand. We were above the tree line and the landscape looked just like Mars. It was incredibly strenuous, made worse by the altitude. And no signs. We had to backtrack often. Jack would not give up so I followed him and kept falling further behind, cursing often! FINALLY we made it to the summit. Happily anticipating going DOWN instead of up, I of course¬†forgot how hard it is to descend when you and your legs are exhausted! Note to self: don’t go hiking with a strong male who is 30 years younger than you are! HONESTLY.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Since we’ve returned, it has rained there most of the time: in fact, the¬†last two weekends in Portland have¬†received many inches of rain. We were so lucky! It does rain there from November through April. We have our cold winter: they have the rainy season. Jack claims he prefers the rain and mild temps. Good thing.

Here are some photos that both Jack and I took.

60th Anniversary

Yesterday I realized it was October 11th, my parents’ (Margaret and Charles Thiemann) anniversary. Then I did a little math and realized – WOW – it would have been their 60th anniversary! My dad died in 2007 and then my mom followed in 2008. They started dating when my mom was FOURTEEN, then married when she was 17 and he was 19. They had me when my mom was just 19. I was the first of five children. It was alot of fun having such young parents: they had lots of energy to have 4 children in 4 1/2 years! (My brother Ken arrived many years later when I was in eleventh grade).

Anyways, I just love this photo. My mom has such an adoring look on her face! And they are so heartbreakingly young!  When she died, I, as the oldest child AND a photographer, inherited all the family albums. This was just a little snapshot. It was taken at a wedding and there was a friend sitting right next to my mom and lots of people in the background. I liked it well enough to remove all the extra people and scenery in Photoshop.

These days, we tend to put our photos in a folder on our computer desktop. I am guilty of not printing photos like we did in the old “film” days. As a result, we don’t often have prints of all the little moments. My mom had so many albums – more like scrapbooks. She saved every program, matchbook cover, ticket, etc. And tons of black and white photos.

I am SO GLAD to have this photo!¬† …. Don’t forget to have your favorites printed!

Fall Colors Year Round

Many of our seniors and families try to time their photo session when the fall colors are at their peak. In Minnesota, this is very tricky! This year, I believe the leaves are just going to turn brown and shriveled and make a crunchy brown carpet.¬† NOT pretty for photos. So, in the age of Photoshop Magic, one more amazing trick is to simply change foliage into any color you want: yellow, orange, red. I always love my customers’ reaction when they see the same photo side by side! So… don’t wait until all the leaves are on the ground: I can change the foliage into the color that best matches or compliments¬†your clothing. If you don’t see the original photo, no one is ever going to examine too closely that “things aren’t always what they seem” ūüôā

4 Hours at the State Fair

There are two kinds of people in Minnesota: those who love the State Fair and those who don’t. I belong to the first category and can’t imagine summer coming to an end without a visit or two (sometimes three) to the Fair.

Here are my top 3 favorite things to do at the Fair:  1.  Eat all kinds of Good Stuff  (in spite of that hateful news expose about how many calories and grams of fat are in your favorite fair foods! 90 grams of fat in Tom Thumb mini donuts РEEGADS)   2. Pet goats  3. Buy some kind of gadget (usually found in the Horticulture Building)  4. People Watching (ok Р4 things)

This week I found myself with a free morning and decided, since I was going by myself, to take advantage of the $5 round trip bus from Burnsville High School. The first bus left at 8 a.m. To my complete surprise, there were at least 150 people in line when I arrived at 7:45!

Upon arriving at the Fair, I had to decide how best to spend my 4 hours before catching the 1 p.m. bus back to Burnsville.

Isn’t it funny how we are creatures of habit? As my husband and I always do, I first opted for “The Breakfast of Champions”: a footlong hotdog.¬† Next came my favorite building: the Horticulture Building. Who can resist gigantic vegetables, Seed Art, and bee beards? WHOA: this year’s giant pumpkin winner weighed 1200 pounds!¬† Next I went and touched and smelled all the Christmas Trees. The Ratchet Pruning Shears Man was there as always, and this year I decided that I just had to have the Whole Set. He put my purchase aside and I would return for it before leaving the Fair.

The VERY BEST FOOD ITEM at the fair? The Honey Sunflower Seed Ice Cream! The benches next to the ice cream stand (on the outer perimeter of the Horticulture building) afford the best people watching, too, as you try to eat the enormous ice cream cone without dripping it all over yourself!

Then we always walk to the very back of the Fair and take the chairlift back. Another Fair rule: you have to find/try something new. I was intrigued by a large silver inflated “building” that looked like a bouncy house for adults. I paid the $4 and walked through the colorful series of rooms. It would have been better if it wasn’t so HOT and SMELLY inside! I couldn’t figure out why it smelled like an animal barn: those were WAY on the other side of the Fair??

Then there was a Giant Sing Along. Kind of like group Karyoke, only not as scary! Continuous songs play and you stand at a microphone (there are about 50) and sing to the lyrics projected on a big screen. Yikes – all I could hear was my voice!

OMG – the time was flying by and I hadn’t even petted a goat yet. Or found the macaroons someone told me I had to try. Then I was almost to the barns and realized I had to go pick up my pruners. I also had to find a concrete sealer that was in the Grandstand complex. Yuck – I hate the crowds in there: traffic definitely does not flow. Maybe this is planned by the vendors?? Well, I did not buy the sealer but was lured by the Perfect Pillow booth next to it. I have been on a 2 year quest to find a good pillow (that is another story). The salesman was very persuasive and I found myself buying an $85 pillow (hey – free delivery!). Then I found a floating lily pad with a frog for my pond. Man – get me outta there – I was on a buying spree!

Sadly, the goats the first week of the fair are in the Stinky Swine Barn. (The dairy goats arrive on Thursday and have their own barn) Farmers were herding their pigs to the pig shower. They were NOT cooperating: you would have thought they were being led into the slaughter house! Multiple people with big plastic gates were trying to coral and force the squealing pigs into the shower. It was really hilarious!

I nearly had to run to the bus stop, as the buses only come on the hour. As I was hurrying there, I was upset that I’d only sampled the two food items. WHAT: no french fries, roasted corn, or eggrolls? I really felt cheated!

And determined to go back in a few days and not be on a time crunched schedule.

So; I always ask everyone: what is your favorite thing to do and favorite thing to eat at the fair? Please leave a comment!

8:45 a.m. Not too crowded yet

The "Breakfast of Champions"

1185 pounds! This is the largest pumpkin I have ever seen at the fair.
Too funny: the first place scarecrow (see all the gold medals?)
Gotta love the Seed Art!
I was excited that my brother Ken Thiemann’s new brewery was listed on the Brewer’s map of MN
Borealis Fermentery is located in Two Harbors along the Scenic Drive. They specialize in Belgian ales
This just looked like too much fun to pass up!
A maze of colorful tunnels to explore

Group Karyoke! You get your own microphone and sing along to the projected song lyrics. Highly recommended ūüôā
Riding the Chairlift over Machinery Hill
You have GOT to try the Honey Sunflower Seed Ice Cream!
Every year I think this is the prettiest stand at the Fair
Herding pigs into the shower! (Darn: I thought I was taking video but didn’t press the right button…..)
The goats seemed to be watching the unruly pigs
Can’t you just hear them begging: Pet me, Pet MEEEEE! Have you ever heard of therapy dogs? These are therapy GOATS. And they love to be petted!
I took this for comparison to the beginning photo. Great weather to be at the fair!

Heidi and Charles’ Wedding

Heidi’s mom contacted me about a month ago to take “a few photos” at her daughter’s wedding August 4. It was, what is getting to be, a typical wedding for me: bride lives in one state, groom in another, groom’s parents in yet another and bride’s parents in St. Paul. Luckily, everyone was in town the week of the wedding and I was able to meet with the couple that week to go over the photos that they’d like taken at the wedding.

Heidi and Charles met at St. Olaf’s, so it was natural they wanted the ceremony at the Boe Memorial Chapel on campus. This was the first time I’d photographed a wedding there. What a beautiful chapel! Lots of stained glass that flooded the church with soft ambient lighting. Both the interior and the exterior were gorgeous for photography and if there were Honolulu photographers, they would capture in the best possible way.

We got very lucky with the weather: rain was forecast for the entire morning. When we arrived, we were able to photograph the groom, his parents and groomsmen outdoors. Next, Charles and Heidi met for the first time, after which we dashed outdoors for a few quick photos before it began raining in earnest. We took the rest of the group photos indoors. We only had one hour to do all the photography, as they had a morning ceremony. All the photos below were taken within one very short hour. The large group on the steps and a few outdoor portraits were taken in 15 minutes after the ceremony, as the bride and groom wanted to go immediately to their reception. Whew!¬† [Thankfully my husband Mike (who I call my “wedding sherpa!”) was in charge of all the lighting setup and hauling of equipment. He has been helping me at weddings for 35 years now–what a guy!! ūüôā I could NEVER do a wedding without him.]

Charles and Heidi like to dance, sing and cook together (and cook while singing), and go on “adventures” together. They are now on their honeymoon in the Smoky Mountains doing adventurous things.

I should note that Heidi is wearing her grandmother’s wedding dress. Her mother was still sewing on Heidi’s dress while I photographed Charles and the groomsmen and his family!


Garden Tour

I love to garden! This is a really good thing because there are LOTS of gardens surrounding our house/photography studio. I even have a container vegetable garden on the lower deck level (see the last two photos). The three huge pots are filled with 100% organic compost that I make year-round. The landscape companies near me do a really good job at maintaining the aestheticism of the garden.

People always ask me while we are photographing in the gardens, “WHO does all your gardening?” I always reply, “You’re looking at her!” Sundays¬†are totally devoted to garden maintenance this time of year: hours of weeding, fertilizing, moving plants, pruning, pond maintenance, etc. It’s a good workout, too!

This summer has been wicked hot and humid. People are getting tired of the heat, but the flowers–with constant watering–are thriving like never before! Check out¬† to¬†get that picturesque and statuesque outdoor space that you have always been dreaming of.

My favorite time of day is early morning as the sunlight shines through the woods. The flowers seem to glow at this hour. This morning, I strolled through the gardens with my cup of coffee and decided I should go grab my camera and try to capture how lovely everything was looking. Here is my “garden photo tour” for you to enjoy, beginning with the walkway to the front¬†door, then down the stone steps to the backyard.

The colorful border of coleus, impatiens and salvia that leads to the front door

Ferns and hosta against the ivy-covered fence
A stream meanders down the hill and empties into the koi pond
View from my “happy hour rock” ūüôā

My “vegetable garden”: herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and pole beans

Emily and Mike – July 7, 2012

I have been a wedding photographer for a LONG time: since the 1970s. Sometimes I think I have “seen it all”: animals as attendants, grooms on horses, grooms that didn’t show up for the two hours of photos taken before the ceremony (two), runaway brides (one), runaway grooms (one), and–naturally–shockingly embarassing drunken toasts. But let me tell you a funny story about my wedding last weekend.

We were to begin photography at noon at the Church of the Incarnation in Minneapolis. The timing was going to be very tight, given that their wedding started at 2 p.m. but there was another event scheduled at the church that morning. We arrived at 11:40 a.m.¬†and patiently waited in our car for the wedding party to arrive. There were many nicely dressed people milling about inside and outside of the church from the previous event. “Come on,” I silently pleaded. “Clear the church so we can get inside and set up our equipment!”

We idly wondered, had it been a funeral, a first communion? Then at 11:50 a.m., a limo pulled up. “Wow,” I exclaimed to Molly. “Emily didn’t tell me she was arriving in a limo!” We jumped out, ready to photograph her arrival, but lo and behold, the limo door opened and out jumped a videographer and photographer, followed by… huh?… NOT MY BRIDE!!!

“OH NO!” I shouted as Molly yelled at me, “Mom, do you have the right church?!” Molly immediately whipped out her phone and discovered there was another Incarnation Church–downtown! I frantically dialed Emily on her cell phone, praying that she would answer. When she did, she told me, “I’m three minutes away.”

Well, it was the same church we were at! I had to inform her there was a wedding about to begin at noon. And not hers! She shouted, “That wedding was supposed to be an hour ago!” They had just informed her of this added event the night before at her rehearsal, but they had assured her that wedding would be cleared out by noon.

Long story short: The bride moved and forgot to update this information with her vendors (limo driver included). He waited for¬†30 minutes at her old address, and then–not knowing what to do–went to the church, where her relatives informed him of her NEW address. So he rushed to go get her, but this was already an hour later.

All I can say is thank goodness it was not the day before, when it was 102 degrees and unforgiveable humidity. We had to take ALL the “before” group photos outside at the priest’s residence next door. We were limited to a few small patches of shade, one tree and some bushes. And do you think they might have hurried along the late late wedding? No way! It went on endlessly for an hour. Emily and Mike’s guests were arriving and the other wedding hadn’t let out yet!

Luckily, this couple was very laid back and understanding (unlike their neurotically nervous photographer who was trying very hard NOT to act neurotic and nervous!). And nothing was going to get in the way of them having a very FUN wedding! Actually, the non-air conditioned church was like an oven, and it was beautifully balmy and breezy outside. So most everyone was just fine with the outdoor pics. We did take some photos in the church afterwards.

Emily and Mike were high school sweethearts. They went off to different colleges but love persevered over the years and a wedding date, some 12 years later, was set. See the first photo below of the very YOUNG couple at their tenth grade prom in 2001!

This couple made it clear to me that their goal for the wedding day was to celebrate with family and friends. Yes, they wanted great photos, but they didn’t want to spend large blocks of time taking pictures. They rented a limo bus and wanted to spend the time after the wedding riding around the lakes and having fun with their friends. We did have about a half-hour at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and took some fun shots there. My favorite is Mike spraying a bottle of champagne. Look at the girls cowering together trying to avoid the spray!

Sometimes a wedding photographer just has to go with the flow. It certainly worked on this day. As they old adage goes, all’s well that ends well (big relieved sigh).

Formal dance photo from throughout their high school years.
Great dresses for a summer wedding! And check out the darling flower girl!

Before the ceremony, Emily was surprised with a hand-written letter from Mike.
Fisheye view of The Church of the Incarnation.
A beautiful setting for a beautiful day.
Sharing a laugh during the ceremony.

Their wedding party and limo bus is waiting for the couple just outside the church doors.

The famous “Cherry and Spoon” installation at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
A “champagne toast.”
The exact spot where they had prom pictures taken in high school.
Don’t you love their expressions?
The Semple Mansion in Minneapolis.
The ballroom upstairs at Semple Mansion for dinner and dancing.
Making a grand entrance into their reception.

Curly or Straight? – 2 Separate Sessions

Many girls are wanting to do two separate photo shoots with their hair styled differently. We have found that it is best to schedule this on two different days: that way, they have enough time to style it so that it looks perfect. I am constantly amazed when they arrive for the second shoot: is this really the same girl?!  The cost to do this is an additional $50 added to the Ultimate Session. They can wear three outfits one day, and then two outfits another day with a different hairstyle. It adds even more amazing variety to their Ultimate Session!

Here are some recent photos of Alex, who was photographed on June 26th and 27th. What fun variety: and she looks beautiful both ways!



Buddy Groups

“Buddy groups” are one of the fun things that happen at the studio in the spring before school lets out. Many groups visit the studio during our annual Open House in May or are brought by one of our senior reps. They may also be an “add-on” to a senior’s session. Large or small, they are always fun!

At the Open House, Jack was also shooting video of the groups. Here are some photos of the different groups as well as a slideshow of everyone we have photographed so far.

Click this link to view the slideshow – with video – of ALL our spring buddy groups: