Hidden Gem Photographers in New Mexico

Yes, it’s true — we just said earlier this week that the fickle weather of spring had given way to steady sunshine and…..then it rained. So it goes in this beautiful, mercurial desert state! While we might not be able to rely on the weather for consistency, we can at least know that whatever rain comes to New Mexico won’t last very long. Plus, because temperamental weather is often on the horizon, local creatives have learned how to work with and around it, especially our wedding photographers.

We all know that rain on your wedding day is good luck — what with the symbolism of cleansing, renewal, and fertility and all — but what about the wind? Or the blazing New Mexican sun that occasionally becomes a bright and shining nuisance? Despite how perfectly you may plan your wedding, there are always a few uncontrollable weather variables. So, if you can’t control the weather, you’ll need a team of wedding professionals who aren’t afraid of a little Mother Nature.

Which is why we’ve put together a list of our 5 favorite hidden gem photographers. With years of experience in rain and shine, these local wedding photographers have been put to the test and come out on the other side with gorgeous visual art, a fine-tuned understanding of lighting, and a considerable dedication to their craft. So, if you maybe want someone you can count on to capture your wedding day — take a peak below.

1. Beth Waldron Photography

We’re starting out strong here with the creative known as Beth Waldron Photography. Like an amazingly talented fly on the wall, Beth photographed our Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer just a few weeks ago, and totally captured the essence, fun, and special moments of the event. (Not to mention, the photos were beautiful despite coming from a dimly-lit ballroom.) With an expressive edge that comes through in each shot, her wedding photography should be properly classified as works of art.

 

2. Jared Kellogg Photography

I feel life has a soul and there is nothing more beautiful than capturing it in a smile or in the twinkle in some one’s eye.

We couldn’t have described the creative driving force behind Jared Kellogg‘s photographic art any better than he does himself! With a unique blend of digital and film photography in his portfolio, Jared has come to understand the medium on a personal and artistic level, which shines through in his business. His clean and even approach to each couple makes his work feel comforting and familiar, with a kind of timelessness to last through each and every anniversary.

 

3. Chandelier Studio

It’s hard not to love Shannon, the creative powerhouse behind Chandelier Studio, from the first moment you meet her. All of her photographic work — weddings and boudoir — comes from a deeply artistic, deeply collaborative place, and it shows. The focus of her lens and creative practices is on making sure the women and couples in front of the camera feel beautiful, and know they’re beautiful. It’s no small wonder then, that each shot comes out looking comfortable, crisp, and perfectly balanced.

 

4. Rick Saul Photography

Rick Saul approaches each engaged couple in New Mexico with a keen awareness of the fact that his photos will long outlive the ceremony, reception, and even the honeymoon. It’s this knowledge that motivates his work, and ensures his talents are used to encapsulate all the most important moments of the day, whether they are precious and heartfelt, or silly and fun. His photographs are, essentially, his way of cementing your story in time forever, so that they may remind you of your unique love for decades to come.

 

5. Shutter Force Photography

To finish just as a strong as we started, we’re wrapping up here with Shutter Force Photography. Although we just did a special feature on the husband-and-wife photographer duo, it’s worth reiterating that their fun and loving approach to photography is totally unparalleled. Meagan and James, as they’re also called by, cultivate real, genuine relationships with their couples. It’s with this connection that they are able to express the inexpressible emotions, details, and depth of each love story within their photography.

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What Local Engaged Couples Have to Say About Planning a Wedding in New Mexico

So, if we’re being honest with ourselves, most people in New Mexico know Perfect Wedding Guide for our wedding shows. Which makes sense, considering how many hundreds of engaged couples and local wedding professionals come together to make shows like the Diamond Dash, Bride’s Night Out, and the Wedding Gallery possible. We’re not really complaining, promise, but we actually have a lot of love and appreciation from some of our smaller events, like the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer!

The 2019 edition of the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer flew past us just this last week. (Of course months of planning, collaborating, and designing goes by in a dizzying but beautiful flash!) All we want to talk about is all the amazing nuggets of knowledge we learned, but wait…

What even is the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer?!

Great question, reader! This particular event was conceptualized to fill the gap between local engaged couples and the wedding professionals who serve them. (Sound familiar?) Essentially, the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer is oriented like a research or focus group. We invite around 10 engaged or recently married couples from the local community to come share their insights, triumphs, complaints, compliments, woes, worries, and wonders about the wedding planning process in New Mexico. 

Then, with bellies full of a complementary, gourmet dinner, the wedding professionals from all over New Mexico take note, adjust their practices, ask questions, and, hopefully, grow! It’s one of the few opportunities you have in any business-client relationship to truly hear and communicate with one another. It’s how we’re able to keep the eclectic New Mexico wedding market moving and evolving in the right direction.

Ready to learn what the engaged couples who have come before you have to say about the wedding planning process in New Mexico? Let’s jump in with our 3 main takeaways.

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Beth Waldron Photography

1. Inclusivity is Key.

Another word for inclusivity here could be clarity. When we asked the couples, “What is the most important quality you are looking for when hiring a wedding professional?” the conclusion was the same across the board. Couples look for those who exude kindness and personality, and vendors who actually listen to their vision without imposing their own ideas on the couple. 

When we asked the couples what the vendors they choose did to earn their business, what we heard reaffirmed these values. They appreciated (and went on to book) the professionals who didn’t exclusively brag about themselves, whose websites were clear and communicative, and whose work accurately represented the couples they want to work with.

For example, if a wedding professional exclusively promotes straight couples on their website and social media channels, the chances of reaching LGBTQ couples are pretty much nil.

To sum: be clear, be kind, be inclusive, and listen well.

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2. Stick to Email, Folks.

Yes, the digital world is ever changing, and it’s so tempting to make texting your main form of communication. (You can do it from bed, from the gym, from the couch with Netflix playing in front of you, so we totally get it.)

But, because lots of couples create a specific email address for wedding planning, keeping all communications in one place is best. There’s higher visibility of conversations in email as well, so accountability comes much easier.

Also, hate is a strong word, but our couples felt strongly about this: they hate phone calls. Like, really and truly. Most couples are at work during a business’s hours of operations, or they’re at home with their partners and families.

Remember: stick to email.

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3. Yes, Social Media is Still Important.

Your website should still be the home of your business, but social media is where the vast majority of couples look for wedding inspiration. The two top contenders, which you might be able to guess already, are Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram is a great platform to utilize, according to the local couples, because it’s easy to return to feed posts for references — though they love seeing stories, especially of behind-the-scenes previews for styled shoots and weddings. Pinterest is beneficial for businesses as well because it’s so visually-oriented. Then, there’s always the concept of pinfinity, too!

(Pinfinity = the fact your pins continue to be recirculated by pinners long after you post them, whereas Instagram posts are usually only seen within the first 48 hours of posting.)

Here’s your excuse to log on, friends, and show the world what you’re working with.

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A very special thank you to all the incredible local businesses who made this awesome, collaborative event possible: Embassy Suites, for generously hosting us and feeding all our guests a marvelous meal; De Novo Pastoral Services for being our informed and entertaining emcee; Beth Waldron Photography for capturing all the fun above; Estella Floral Design for our darling centerpieces; Funky Olive Designs for our pretty little invitations; Cello for Weddings for serenading all our guests with delightful live cello music; and Black Swan Events, for transforming the ballroom into a conducive, inspiring space.

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New Mexico Wedding Photography with Shutter Force

We were particularly impressed with Megan and James’ infectious enthusiasm, which made the day even more fun and memorable. They are truly adventure photographers and are up for anything to get a great photo. It is obvious that they enjoy their jobs and love spending time with their couples while providing great pictures.

-Amanda, local + engaged

One of the many things that makes New Mexico oh so special — besides the green chile, intoxicating desert landscapes, and mañana mentality, of course — is the variety of people, cultures, and communities coexisting here together. There’s no one, dominant kind of person here, but rather a collection of different experiences of the world, values, stories, and lives.

When it comes to choosing the wedding professionals you’ll work with to make your dream day come true, then, the options are endless. Taking a look at even just the range of skill we have from local photographers, and those who have come from all over the world to be ceaselessly inspired by New Mexico, your choices are definitely not limited. Which means you have the opportunity here to spend time with your decision, and choose the photographer or photography team that matches your aesthetic preferences and personality. How lucky is that?!

Every photographer in New Mexico is talented in their own unique ways, too, so there really is no wrong decision when it comes to choosing someone in-state. But there are a few who we can say, from personal experience, go above and beyond to capture your celebration of love in all its grandness — and all the important, tiny moments too — with collaborative hearts and full dedication. You see where we’re going here?

Meagan and James are the husband and wife duo behind the respected name, Shutter Force Photography, and when we say dedicated, we mean dedicated. Now, of course the couple had their own wedding photographed, so they’ve been on both sides of the lens and know how to move and operate within the bustling business of a wedding day without being obtrusive or missing a special moment. This, paired with their adventurous and fun-loving personalities, makes Shutter Force Photography feel more like a couple of your close friends, Meagan and James, who happen to be supremely skilled behind the camera. Which you can see, through the candid smiles, comfortable postures, and wide open hearts of everyone who collaborates with them.

We could talk endlessly about Shutter Force Photography‘s particular strengths and aesthetic style, but no matter how heavily we lean on the thesaurus, nothing comes close to describing their ability to capture sweeping landscapes and delicate details like, well, their photos of sweeping landscapes and delicate details. So we’ll let them take it from here.

To book Shutter Force Photography for your wedding, you can contact Meagan and James here.

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Outstanding, caring and enthusiastic photographers, who do an amazing job of catching the big and little details that make up a special day!

-Mark, local + newlywed

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Wedding Details Big and Small: Occasion Services Spotlight

You’d think that after watching the magic unfold from the Occasion Services & Events team at so many of our wedding shows, we’d be a little bit used to it by now, right? Wrong. Even via the digital world, we still find ourselves trying to catch our breath when we stumble across one of the many seemingly impossible, absolutely fantastical weddings Occasion Services & Events manifests all the time like it’s no big deal.

So, honestly, it’s pretty understandable that we do some occasional, light stalking of their team’s Facebook and website. Now, we agree, it’s a completely different experience to sit back and watch many hands flurrying about in unison as they, somehow, turn ballrooms and backyards into dreamscape wonderlands. But having the option to be spoon-fed photos of their mesmerizing decor at our fingertips? Well, now, maybe the internet isn’t such a dark place after all.

There you have it, the whole truth. We happened upon this fresh and fanciful wedding when we were Facebook stalking Occasion Services & Events, and we’re not afraid to admit it. Lively vines serpentining down long, farmhouse tables; accents of eucalyptus and greenery tucked in every possible corner; a delicate wooden arbor to frame the happy couple during their vows. How could we not share it?

With not a cloud in the sky, but plenty of rainy eyes, Brenna + Landon were married in our very own Santa Fe. Occasion Services + Events, with the help of some dedicated local wedding experts, made their wedding day as pure and invigorating as the couple’s love story. To book their team for your own celebration, you can contact them here.

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Photographer: Kayla Smith Photography

Florist: Bloomstream Flowers

Cake: American Pie Bakery

Venue: The Club at Las Campanas

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Story Time: Local Business Spreading Love

Being surrounded by proposals, engagements, weddings, ceremonies — and the business owners who make all those magnificent things possible — means that here at Perfect Wedding Guide, we’re never worried about any shortage of love. How lucky is that?! And because we feel so blessed, we do our darnedest to make sure we’re constantly showing gratitude to the people who make our world perpetually rose-colored.

Though it is a bit hard to not grow acclimated to the love and support around us, especially because it is so bountiful. Which is why we believe it’s important to share when, every once in awhile, something happens that tugs on our heartstrings a little bit more than usual, and encourages us to stop and spend a moment reflecting on how lucky we are to be a part of the Albuquerque + Santa Fe wedding community. Which is what we’re doing now, if you couldn’t tell already.

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Cutmaster Music, a team of DJs with unparalleled creativity and energy, has been a part of the Perfect Wedding Guide family for quite some time now. So, when something went awry with our 12 Months of Giveaways recently, we knew we could count on Cutmaster to lend us a helping hand.

The 12 Months of Giveaways is exactly what it sounds like: a year-round wedding giveaway, with new couples chosen for prizes every single month. The prizes, each valued at over $300, come from our local wedding professionals and change annually. A few months ago, a lovely engaged couple was chosen for the 12 Months of Giveaways, and decided to claim their favorite of the 12 prizes: a free photo booth for their reception!

Luckily, their wedding was still several months away. (Planning points to them!) Shortly after the couple chose their prize, the photo booth company that had offered their services had to shut down, due to health complications. That’s where Cutmaster Music came in!

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Founded with the intention of breaking the mold of traditional DJ services, Cutmaster has already garnered a reputation of generosity and dedication here in New Mexico. And it’s truly no wonder — their team stepped in and saved the day, offering their photo booth and technicians to the engaged couple, free of charge. The couple was able to keep the prize they truly wanted instead of having to choose a new one, and Cutmaster Music lived up to the expectations of integrity and excellence they promise their couples.

Thank you, Cutmaster! We’re eternally grateful for you. To book Cutmaster Music, and guarantee the highest quality of expertise and kindness, you can contact their team here.

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First Day of Forever: New Mexico Love Story

As you probably well know by now, our Perfect Wedding Guide team is positioned between the local wedding professionals, and the engaged couples who work with them. So we’re often bouncing back and forth from brides to businesses — which, of course, we consider a lucky pendulum. But, every so often when the stars align, we’re lucky enough to have both our worlds collide!

Courtney is both one-half of a heartwarming love story — which we’ll get to, promise — and one of the lovely and dutiful members of the Nature Pointe team. For years now, we’ve had the opportunity to recommend and relish in the perfected beauty of the New Mexico wedding venue. So yeah, you could say we’re business buds!

Now, with something as delightful as a proposal, we’ve had the opportunity to interview Courtney as one of our featured love stories! Her other half, Joshua, planned a fantastic day that culminated with him popping the question, and we’re so happy to be able to share it here with you.

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When did you and Joshua first meet?

“We met in middle school during the 7th grade!”

When and how did he propose to you?

“He proposed to me with a culmination of all the ways he asked me to dances in high school. (We started dating during the summer before our junior year.) There was a scavenger hunt, a dozen roses, a line of Hershey’s Kisses, and chocolate melted down into letters asking if I’d marry him. Here’s the story: When I drove into the parking lot, I noticed his car and knew something was up.

I entered the office, and he was nowhere to be found. Instead, when I sat at my desk there was a note, the beginning of a scavenger hunt, and a single rose. Funnily enough, the note teased me about getting the scavenger hunt right this time. (I already messed up one in high school). I read the note and was immediately confused. I thought to myself “I guess I’m bound to mess this up too lol.” Instead of finding the next clue, I found the last clue that directed me out of the office and to a line of Hershey’s Kisses leading me to him.

When I got there, I asked if I had missed something and was turned around to go find the other clues. Back in the office, I found the second clue, another rose, and a note saying one reason why he loved me. Then, I went onto find 3 more clues, roses, and lovely notes. Finally, I was sure I found all of the clues and excitedly went out to see him. When I got there, he was down on one knee.”

How did you react to his proposal? Were you expecting it?

“I can’t even remember what he said, but I immediately said yes and gave him a big smooch! When we walked back into the office all of my co-workers cheered and congratulated us.

I had expected the proposal the next day seeing as it was our 7th dating anniversary. Joshua said that he had to do it the day before so that I’d be at least a little surprised. I was super excited and shaky the whole time. Emotional overload!”

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Glory Ranch Films: Albuquerque Cinematographer

At the ceremony, [Glory Ranch Films] completely blended in and made the filming feel totally stress-free, not at all ‘in your face’, as I’ve experienced at some other weddings. The film is just beautiful and incorporated sweet thoughtful details as well as being incredibly high quality.

Julia, local bride

Is there anything sweeter than hearing kind and genuine words about one of your favorite local wedding professionals from a happy newlywed? Okay, maybe that’s a bit too specific, but for us, that truly is the pinnacle of sweetness. How could it not be, when we spend our days working hard to keep the dreams alive for both New Mexico’s engaged couples, and the local businesses who serve them?

It’s local businesses like Glory Ranch Films, especially, who fuel our wedding-loving, community-serving fire. Simply because the husband and wife duo have been doing the good work of filming, capturing, and creating beautiful moments for local couples to have for the rest of their lives. For over ten years Tom and Jenny, of Glory Ranch Films, have been working diligently for their couples, and the couple’s passion for storytelling hasn’t wavered a bit. And that is why we’re inspired by their team, and able to keep our spirits high while we try to support our community just as well.

With that in mind, it comes as no surprise, then, that all of Tom and Jenny’s couples have nothing but delightful things to say about their work. Their finely-tuned, documentary style of capturing moments keeps their work true to the heart of each couple. After years of collaborating and creating together, clean visuals and dynamic storytelling comes naturally to the couple. 

No shot-by-shot analysis of their creative wedding films could come close to recreating the experience of immersing yourself in their work, so we’ll take off from here, and let their artistry speak for itself. To book Glory Ranch Films for your wedding, you can contact Tom and Jenny here. 

We relish the process of partnering couples to bring their wedding day visions to life through film, capturing the beauty, honesty and magic within both the extravagant moments and the intricate details throughout the big day.

-Tom and Jenny, Glory Ranch Films