I knew it the second that I took this photo that it was going to be one of my favorites photos from the day, and it is.

Wedding Elopement Photography by Hannah Hardaway Photography at the Wedding Tree just north of Jackson, Wyoming

Why? Because it was a beautiful moment. Ross, Julie and I were standing on top of the mountain, a light breeze was blowing, the faint smell of sagebrush hung in the air, birds were chirping excitedly after the storm clouds had passed, the Tetons were looking stunning as usual off in the distance… and I was taking more photos of the newly married couple.

Who knows what they were thinking the moments before I took this photo, it could have been something along the lines of, “Wow, she sure is taking a lot of photos of us… Didn’t we already get a photo like this?… Wow, she is getting really close to us with her camera… What should I do with my arms? Head? Hands?” Or whatever other random thoughts might cruise through one’s head as they are being photographed and trying to act like you aren’t.

Maybe not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were because I have had my own photo taken plenty and being in front of a camera can feel pretty intimidating at times–especially when you are getting your photo taken ALL DAY LONG. Furthermore, let’s face it, being out in the mountains, dressed to the nines, and being asked to be affectionate with your one-and-only while you both know you are getting photographed is not exactly the most normal or romantic of circumstances.

But you want great photos from your wedding day! You want photos that you can look at and remember how excited you felt when you saw your groom (or bride!) for the first time looking more handsome than you ever could have imagined; How your heart swelled with gratitude when you looked out at all the people that you love most in the world sitting in the audience looking back at you; How overwhelmed with joy you were when you walked back down the aisle arm-in-arm as husband and wife; How sweet it felt to have his arms wrapped around you during your first dance; How touched you were by your father’s words as he toasted you two and your new life together;  How your heart felt like it could literally burst from all the love you felt all day.

How do you make sure that your photos are going to be able to transport you back to all those precious moments?

By being present. And soaking it ALL in… every last little detail, as it is happening… And by not thinking about the photos at all (at least trying not too!)

If you are in the moment, fully experiencing whatever you are feeling, your photos will be amazing.

So why is this image so powerful? Because Julie was able to (however briefly) forget about me and my camera and just really soak it all in. I remember it clearly, I said something simple along the lines of, “Just close your eyes, and really savor the moment,” and I could see any unsureness just melt away as she softly closed her eyes and relaxed into Ross’s arms.

It looks a beautiful moment because it was one.

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

So life is really busy… and sometimes it seems like one wedding season rolls into the next. For the last 7 summers (and hopefully for many more summers to come!) I have had the incredible privilege (and responsibility!) to photograph amazing weddings all over Jackson Hole and Teton Valley (and some phenomenal weddings across the country and beyond which I really love as well, but that is for another post :-) With the majority of weddings here in Wyoming taking place between June and September, my summers are primarily spent preparing, photographing, and editing. Of course I try to sneak in as much hiking, mountain biking, and camping as I can, but what I am getting at is that I often don’t have much time to revisit and reminisce about all the spectacular celebrations that I am graciously invited to be a part of until weeks or months after the day.

When I do finally have a little break in my shooting schedule (usually during the slower winter months here in snowy Wyoming,) I LOVE pouring back through my images and remembering all the sweet/funny/touching/tear-jerking moments that I got to witness and be a part of… and more than anything, I get the absolute best warm fuzzy feelings hearing from my couples what photographs they treasure the most from their day.

I was inspired by a photographer friend of a photographer friend (David Clumpner) who used to do a blog series where he featured his bride’s favorite image next to his groom’s favorite image. Here is the first post of hopefully a long and heartwarming blog series drawing on my inspiration from David and sharing some of my couples’ highlights from their days with a short snippet about why they love their chosen image so very much and followed by my favorite image from the day.

Gabbie and Harry… Gabbie met Harry in kindergarten! How sweet is that??? They went to school together until 2nd grade (Gabbie even remembers having a crush on Harry!) They ended up in separate schools after 2nd grade and lost touch, but they become friends in high school and eventually started dating in college. They have been together ever since.

Gabbie’s Favorite Image

The Couloir Restaurant at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a very unique wedding venue in Jackson Hole.  A late night image from Hannah Hardaway Photography of Gabbie and Harry

“Well first, clearly, I really enjoyed our dance [Gabbie had the idea for them to learn a short choreographed dance number for their first dance and was very excited that Harry actually agreed to do it.] If you know Harry, you know he does not like to dance. Or be the center of attention. So this was a big deal. I also love seeing him smile, and this is such a natural smile (both his and mine). I can just see how happy we both were in that moment and how much fun we were having, and that’s what it’s all about for me.” –Gabbie

Harry’s Favorite Image

Sunset wedding photograph outside the Couloir restaurant at the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort taken by Jackson Hole wedding photographer Hannah Hardaway

“Because Gabbie looks so pretty!” –Harry

I totally agree Harry! (This was actually in my top 5 favorite photos from the day too :-)

My Favorite Image

Black and white wedding photography by Hannah Hardaway outside the Couloir restaurant on top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

It was really tough for me to narrow down my favorites to just one image, but Harry’s vows were definitely a highlight of the day. Especially for a man of few words, he really outdid himself with the vows he wrote and had all of us laughing as he shared so many of the things he loved (and the few things that he hoped to learn to love!) about Gabbie. For me, Gabbie laughing and looking adoringly up at Harry says it all.

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

Oh my goodness, I can not believe that I forgot to include Cate’s “Boo Candy” on my blog post last week as one of my tips for staying healthy this winter! I learned about this great concoction from my dear friend Cate Stillman during her 9 month Living Ayurveda Course that I took last winter. “Boo Candy” is super easy to make and kids love it. You can adjust the ratios listed below to make it palatable for their (or your) tastebuds and then work up to mixing in more of the spices to increase the effectiveness as their paletes expand.

Cate’s Recipe for Boo Candy

Get out a cutting board and a wide knife.

  • Add 1/2 cup raw honey to the cutting board.
  • Add 1/3 cup turmeric powder (you can dry roast it first in a skillet for added benefit).
  • Add 1/2 tsp. ginger powder.
  • Add 1/4 tsp. black pepper.
  • Cut the spices into the honey with the knife until you have a smooth texture. Add more spices for desired taste.
  • Store in a small tin or small glass jar.
  • Put on the kitchen table in reach for all ages. Little ones like to roll it into pea-sized balls.

“Boo Candy” should be taken at the first signs of snot, bad breath, or a coated tongue.

To read more about “Boo Candy” and to see a ridiculously adorable video of Cate feeding her daughter Indy (the inspiration behind it all) “Boo Candy,” you can check out Cate’s blog post about Snot-Free Kids on her website Yogahealer.com.

And since blog posts are always more fun with photographs and I just happen to have lots of cute photos of Indy, here she is :-)

Hannah Hardaway Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Teton Valley ChildrensIf you want to learn more, please check out my post from last week Hannah’s Tips for Staying Healthy During the Winter Months.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

I was catching up with my Dad on the phone the other day and he was recounting to me how he had gotten a nasty cold after visiting my brother’s family… again. It’s not surprising, my brother and his wife have three kids under the age of seven who all attend different schools and various activities and it always seems like at least one of them is sniffling or coughing during the cold and snowy winter months… And my parents definitely fall into the category of SUPER-grandparents, they are always very hands-on with the kids, often down on the floor playing with them, being human jungle-gyms and “horsies.” Frustrated to hear that my father was taken down yet again, I promised to send him a little care package with detailed instructions to help boost his immune system during future trips so that he could be Super-grandpa without ending up Super-sick after. And since I was already going to have to write all this out for my Dad, I decided it would be worth posting here too :-)

(That’s me, my brother, and my Dad back well before his Super-grandpa years…)

olympian_hannah_hardaway_as_a_young_skier_with_her_dad_and_brother

 

Hannah’s Tips for Staying Healthy during the Winter Months :

1.) Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and herbal teas. When it is cold and dry out, we don’t always “feel” thirsty, but we are very susceptible to becoming dehydrated. When we are dehydrated, bacteria and viruses can take up residence in our bodies. EXTRA CREDIT : Putting ConcenTrace Trace Minerals Drops in your water so that your body can absorb all that extra hydration you are taking in.

2.) Oil your nostrils. I know it sounds weird, but this was one of the easiest, most effective ways to avoid getting sick that I learned during the life-changing 9 Month Living Ayurveda class I took from my good friend Cate Stillman last winter. All you have to do is put a little oil (coconut or sesame could be a good place to start) on your two pinky fingers and rub it on the inside membranes of your nose. EXTRA CREDIT : Plugging one nostril and breathing in sharply and deeply through the other nostril to try to get the oil up into the membrane (and repeating on the other side.) My favorite oil to use is Cate’s Sinus Lube (because it has good herbs in it and smells nice :-)

3.) Boost your immune system by loading up on herbs when you are starting to feel the first signs of becoming run-down (or before you head down to spend the long weekend juggling small, snotty children.) There are a number of great options out there, my three favorites are : Wellness Formula, Paul Stamet’s MyCommunity Comprehensive Immune Support, and Kick-Ass Immune Activator. I prefer the liquid extracts and just put a dropper full in a small glass of water and shoot it. They also come in pill form if you prefer to take them that way. Jeff and I also found the Kick-Ass Immune Activator in a convenient little spray bottle which I was taking with me and squirting 6 sprays under my tongue periodically when I was fighting off a cold recently. If you don’t like the taste of these extracts you could put them into orange, or some other, juice to mask the flavor a bit, but I don’t find any of these too bad.

4.) There are also some great essential oil blends that help boost the immune system too. My personal favorite is doTERRA’s OnGuard formula. I just put a few drops in my big glasses of water and drink them throughout the day. You can also diffuse it into the air or rub it on the bottom of your (or your little ones’) feet. Best to dilute it with a carrier oil if you are gong to be putting it on your childrens’ sensitive skin and definitely test new-to-you oils cautiously when first using them to make sure that that they work for your body and constitution. Young Living also has an immune boosting blend call Thieves and I have friends who swear by it as well.

5.) Drink homemade ginger, honey, lemon tea like it is going out of style (or at least twice a day.) This was a recipe that I learned from my sweet, awesome, amazing, friend Lisa when she was staying with me a bunch of years back and has become my all-time favorite tea. You will need fresh Organic ginger root (fresh ginger root looks like a little stubby hand with extra fingers.) Ginger has become really popular in the past 5 years or so and should be relatively easy to find in most grocery stores. You will also need Raw Organic Honey (yes it is important to buy the high quality Organic stuff) and Organic lemons. First, peel the skin off the section of ginger that you are going to use with a vegetable peeler or a spoon works, then use a grater to make a small pile of ginger (I just have a little hand one that sits on the counter and looks like a mini-teepee.) Once you have your pile of ginger put it in a big mug, squeeze in some lemon, add a spoonful of honey, and fill the rest of the cup up with hot water. There is no set ratio, you can just add to taste, but generally I probably do 1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger root, 1 tsp honey, and maybe half a lemon — it depends on how juicy the lemon is… To get a nice juicy lemon try to pick lemons that feels heavy for their size. I always pick up a bunch of them individually and bounce them up and down in my hand to compare their weights when I am picking lemons (or limes!) out at the grocery store. It makes a huge difference!

6.) Get lots of sleep (my favorite!) Often times our bodies can fight off a lot if we don’t push them to hard. I definitely take it easy if I feel myself starting to feel at all compromised. Who doesn’t love a good nap??? Or an excuse to read in the middle of the day??? It is also important to try to get to bed early so that you can let yourself sleep as long as you possibly can. (Which for me can sometimes be 10 or 11 hours straight if I am on the verge of coming down with something. I know, impressive right?) In winter, you might find that your body naturally craves more sleep anyway… it’s our time to hibernate and recharge so that we can take advantage of the long, summer days just around the corner.

7.) If I do come down with anything I reach for homeopathics. The science behind homeopathy is definitely a lot harder to wrap my head around, but all I can say is that I have had incredible results personally and I know a lot of friends and family that have as well. Boiron has two great formulas (Coldcalm for colds and Oscillococcinum for flus) that you can buy at most grocery stores now that cover the majority of common cold and flu symptoms all at once so that you don’t have to try to figure out which remedies to use. You can just follow the instructions on the box. I think it is 2 tablets under the tongue every 15 minutes for the first hour and then 2 tablets under your tongue every two hours after that until your symptoms are gone.

8.) Bonus super extract credit for the hardcore folks out there is to make a concoction of fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and turmeric to drink first thing in the morning. You can add as much or as little water as you like. I do not like the taste (or smell!) at all so I prefer to just add a little water and try to gulp it down as fast as possible. If you don’t mind the taste, you could drink it like a tea or in a larger glass with more water so the taste isn’t as overwhelming. This helps to create an alkaline environment in your body, as well as having a myriad of other health benefits including being immune boosting, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. (All disease states need or do best in an acidic internal body environment.)

Alright, I think that is all I’ve got for now.

 

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

P.S. For any moms out there that have small children like my brother and his wife do, my friend Cate has a two hour Healthier Kids workshop that I am sure would be well worth the $35 investment. Her site Yogahealer.com is an incredible resource all around and has tons of great free information on health and wellness.

P.P.S. Gargling sea salt in warm water is another easy fix that I forgot to mention if you find yourself with a sore throat!

P.P.P.S. Also, I just had a tip shared on Facebook from a friend in response to this post that black elderberry syrup can be very effective in shortening the duration of a flu or used as a daily immune booster. She also mentioned that mustard/Epson salt baths can be amazing if you are on the verge of sickness.