Shelley Paulson Photography Blog – Minnesota Equine, Wedding and Portrait Photographer
  • July30th

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-01.JPG

    I met Jeff and Maite 5 years ago in Mexico, at the wedding of clients-turned-friends, Gerardo and Perla. I remember sitting with them at dinner one of the evenings we all spent together in Mexico, hearing them talk about their lives and their plans, hoping that someday they would marry, and that I would get to be their photographer.

    When I heard they were engaged, my hopes grew! I so hoped they would take me with them to beautiful Cartagena, Colombia to photograph their wedding. Not just because it would be an amazing experience, but also because they are a great couple and so much fun to be around!

    When I didn’t hear from them for a few months, I figured they had found someone else. Thankfully, I was wrong! During a trip to visit Gerardo and Perla in NYC, where they were all now living and working, we made plans to all have dinner together. I vividly remember Maite saying, “We just keep comparing every other photographer to you!” So I said, “Okay, then lets figure out how we can make this work – I WANT TO BE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!”

    And so it began. We spent a fun weekend together in Jeff’s hometown, making engagement photo magic all over the city. Then we nailed down the details for the big event, and the rest is history!

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-73.JPG

    It’s hard to find the words to describe that weekend. It will certainly stand as one of my most favorite life experiences. The vivid color and texture of the old city, the sounds of horses hooves clopping down cobblestone streets, the warm breezes in the middle of one of the worst winters ever, THE COFFEE (oh my word, the coffee! I was highly caffeinated the whole trip!)…it was an experience I will always cherish. I was able to share all of this with my husband, who traveled with me and also got to share in this experience of a lifetime.

    One of the biggest highlights of the trip was sharing a hotel suite with Gerardo and Perla and exploring this amazing city together. We don’t speak much spanish, and of course they are fluent, so they were a great help when ordering at restaurants, catching a cab, etc.. On top of just getting time with these dear friends, Gerardo agreed to be my second photographer! He has been learning photography and I thought it would be fun for him to assist me. He was super nervous but did a FANTASTIC job. I was so proud of him!

    I could write a novel, but I’ll stop there. How about some photos?

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-02.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-03.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-05.JPG

    Maite has a very close knit family. The love they share was palpable…

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-06.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-07.JPG

    I just loved her dress. A perfect fit and true reflection of her style.

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-08.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-09.JPG

    Gerardo photographed the guys while I was with the girls. He did such a great job!

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-10.JPG

    Great layering Gerardo!

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-11.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-12.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-13.JPG

    Nervous?

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-14.JPG

    Sometimes super awesome things happen without any planning at all. :)

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-15.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-16.JPG

    Gerardo’s image. Isn’t he talented?

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-17.JPG

    They were married at the Iglesia San Pedro Claver, an 18th Century church in the heart of the city.

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-18.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-19.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-20.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-21.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-22.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-23.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-24.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-25.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-26.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-27.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-28.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-29.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-30.JPG

    After their ceremony, and a few photos with their friends and family, Jeff and Maite took a carriage ride through the city. Definitely my favorite part of the day!

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-31.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-32.JPG

    Just before we got to the reception, we stopped for ice cream. My second favorite part of the day. ;)

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-33.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-34.JPG

    Their reception was held on the Baluarte San Ignacio. It was built in the 1630 to protect the city from attack.

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-35.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-36.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-37.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-38.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-39.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-72.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-40.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-41.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-42.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-43.JPG

    Their band was pretty much amazing. The music stayed in my head for a long time. :)

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-44.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-45.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-46.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-47.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-48.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-49.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-50.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-51.JPG

    One can’t go to an amazing destination like this and not do an “Encore Session”!

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-52.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-53.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-54.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-55.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-56.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-57.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-58.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-59.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-60.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-61.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-62.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-63.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-65.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-66.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-67.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-68.JPG

    Maite loves to jump!

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-70.JPG

    cartagena-colombia-wedding-71.JPG

    This was taken from the rooftop of our hotel…their silhouette’s against the church where they were married.

  • July16th

    ranch-retreat-01.JPG

    It’s hard for me to even know where to start with this post. I will give you the facts, then open my heart wide…

    The same 2010 workshop where I met Eileen (last blog post), I also met Andra Erickson. A sweet, kindhearted woman who ranches in California with her family. We spoke briefly at that workshop about the possibility of doing one at her ranch in the Sierra mountains, just outside of Yosemite. We spoke over the phone a few times, and it just wasn’t clicking. Until 2013, when the time felt right and we moved forward with our plans. Here was the Ranch Retreat blog post.

    The Erickson Cattle Company started back in 1892. They have preserved a true ranching lifestyle, working cattle from horseback. In the summer, they graze their cattle up in the mountains, just a little ways outside of Yosemite National Park.

    The weekend of the retreat was perfection in every way. The Ericksons were the gracious hosts, the participants were all fun and considerate, the weather was picture perfect, and the photography opportunities were absolutely breathtaking (backlit dust? YES PLEASE!)

    I had to pinch myself often to make sure I wasn’t in a dream!

    But I also have this chilling memory. The mountains were so dry last year, and I remember asking Andra, “has there ever been a forest fire here?” She said there had been a small one in the 80s, but nothing big for many years.

    The ten days after our retreat, California’s 5th largest forest fire, named the “Rim Fire” tore through this piece of heaven.

    I prayed and cried every. single. day.

    I would stay up late, waiting for word that the cabin was still there, that the cattle were okay, that somehow the fire would go around the Erickson ranch and leave their property and cattle untouched.

    It felt like my heart was on fire. I am choked up now, just remembering how those days felt.

    But God heard my prayers, and those of hundreds, maybe thousands of others. The fire did not destroy the ranch. It came so, so, so close, but the fire fighters used Ackerson Meadow (where most of the cattle photos you will see here were taken) and the meadow in front of the cabin, as a base of operations. The blessing of that was they did not let the fire overtake these areas. Andra’s husband Dan and his dad also worked tirelessly to protect the land and get as many cattle out as possible. All while the fire raged around them.

    Here are links to a few photos of the fires near Ackerson Meadow and the cabin:

    http://algolub.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/2013-Rim-Fire/G0000ZfZShwKh2NQ/I0000EPkycLsAY1s

    http://algolub.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/2013-Rim-Fire/G0000ZfZShwKh2NQ/I0000Jojh3lFX2MM

    http://algolub.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/2013-Rim-Fire/G0000ZfZShwKh2NQ/I0000DDBznUfcb10

    The consequences of the fire are hard to grasp. For the Ericksons, who lost about 50 head of cattle, it has meant temporarily finding grazing land elsewhere, as their cattle grazed mostly on forest service land and that land is now stressed from the fire. It remains to be seen how many cattle they will be able to return to the land in the years to come, which has a big impact not just on their company, but it could also mean saying goodbye to a way of life that has been in Dan’s family for over 120 years.

    I am heading back to the mountains next month. But this time, I’m going by myself to spend some time with the Ericksons and see what the area looks like now. I hope to be able to teach there again someday, so we will discuss and dream about future Ranch Retreats. :) I am also going to work on a special project that I hope to have done by the end of the year. And of course, I’ll take a bunch more photos, and do some mountain riding, which I’m SUPER excited about!

    Okay, enough words, now onto the photos! I am working on setting up a web site where prints of some of these can be ordered. I will put up a blog post when that is ready!

    ranch-retreat-02.JPG

    ranch-retreat-03.JPG

    We named this cow “Heidi Klum.” She was always out in front, posing for us, often in the best light. And she’s quite beautiful, for a cow. ;)

    ranch-retreat-04.JPG

    Andra’s husband Dan is a cowboy through and through. He was a professional rodeo competitor in saddle bronc riding, calf roping and steer wrestling. It was fun to watch him ride and rope!

    ranch-retreat-05.JPG

    Standing in the truck made for a great view. Kandace smiled the whole time she was behind the camera. :)

    ranch-retreat-06.JPG

    Andra both participated as a photographer, and as a “model.” She’s an excellent rider and roper.

    ranch-retreat-07.JPG

    ranch-retreat-08.JPG

    This dog was extremely loyal to Dan. We would try to contain her sometimes so she wasn’t in the photos, and she would have NONE of it!

    ranch-retreat-09.JPG

    Travis was working for the Erickson’s that summer, so he “modeled” too.

    ranch-retreat-10.JPG

    ranch-retreat-11.JPG

    ranch-retreat-12.JPG

    ranch-retreat-13.JPG

    Andra’s kids rode too! Alissa was just 7 at the time and she roped a few cows. Amazing!

    ranch-retreat-14.JPG

    Jon is an online friend whom I had never met until this weekend. I love it when virtual friends become real life friends!

    ranch-retreat-15.JPG

    Isn’t she the sweetest?

    173_ericksonranch_2013.JPG

    Maureen is a school teacher, and Andra’s children ADORED her.

    So did we. :)

    ranch-retreat-27.JPG

    Several times, we got to photograph horses running through the pasture.

    ranch-retreat-19.JPG

    ranch-retreat-20.JPG

    ranch-retreat-22.JPG

    We practiced panning shots. They are hard to master, but amazing when they work!

    ranch-retreat-23.JPG

    ranch-retreat-24.JPG

    Running horses back and forth is sweaty business! When they stopped to let the horses catch their breath, steam started to rise! I LOVE steam rising in backlight. :)

    ranch-retreat-25.JPG

    Travis, showing off his amazing horsemanship skills!

    ranch-retreat-26.JPG

    “Where’d the head go?” Oh, we laughed so much all weekend!

    ranch-retreat-28.JPG

    ranch-retreat-29.JPG

    ranch-retreat-21.JPG

    ranch-retreat-30.JPG

    Here’s the cabin. It was perfectly rustic, with no electricity except a generator, and no cell service.

    ranch-retreat-16.JPG

    ranch-retreat-31.JPG

    We enjoyed many delicious meals together.

    ranch-retreat-32.JPG

    ranch-retreat-33.JPG

    ranch-retreat-34.JPG

    ranch-retreat-35.JPG

    ranch-retreat-36.JPG

    ranch-retreat-40.JPG

    Here’s a photos of me taken by Jon Pece.

    ranch-retreat-38.JPG

    Such a great family!

    ranch-retreat-39.JPG

  • July14th

    pasadena-wedding-photos-01.JPG

    Finally blogging my last 2013 wedding!

    About four years ago, Eileen reached out to me for mentoring. She was moving her business to full time and wanted help growing as a photographer and a business owner. I just happened to be coming to California, where she lives, for a workshop and was so happy she signed up. Our mentoring relationship continued for several years, and included a visit to Minnesota for mentoring and a portrait session. ps. If you are interested in mentoring with me, visit growtographer for more info.

    Over the years, I’ve grown to love Eileen like a little sister. She is bright and full of joy. She’s grown to be a fantastic photographer and I couldn’t be more proud of her! (see for yourself at Eileen Liu Photography) I was so, so honored when she asked me to be her wedding photographer. I knew it would be a teary day for me because I knew how much she had been looking forward to this day for a long time, and I had too. Just the year before, she second shot a wedding for me in LA, and we talked about how great it will be when she finds her husband and what an amazing wedding she would have.

    Eileen and Benny had a sweet, unexpected romance that led to one of the most beautiful and meaningful weddings I’ve been a part of. Family is extremely important to Eileen and Benny, and all their bridesmaids and groomsmen were family by blood or marriage.

    I had the opportunity to have Serena Grace, a friend of Eileen, second shoot this wedding with me. She was a wonderful second and I loved her images!

    Okay, on to the photos!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-02.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-03.JPG

    I do love that smile!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-04.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-05.JPG

    Eileen’s dad is the cutest!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-06.JPG

    Serena did a great job photographing the guys getting ready!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-07.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-08.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-11.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-09.JPG

    I get inspired by new places and architecture in general.

    pasadena-wedding-photos-10.JPG

    Eileen and her sisters – aren’t they all gorgeous?

    pasadena-wedding-photos-12.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-13.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-15.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-14.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-16.JPG

    The flower girls were Eileen’s nieces.

    pasadena-wedding-photos-17.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-18.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-19.JPG

    One of my favorite moments was just after they got to the altar, the officiant announced that Eileen wanted to take the best photo of the day and proceeded to hand her camera to her! Indeed, she did get the best photo of the day!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-20.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-23.JPG

    Their ceremony started with a sweet time of worship.

    pasadena-wedding-photos-22.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-24.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-25.JPG

    The worship time was lead by Eileen’s sister and brother-in-law.

    pasadena-wedding-photos-21.JPG

    Another brother-in-law officiated the wedding. Seeing a trend here? :)

    pasadena-wedding-photos-26.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-27.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-28.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-29.JPG

    Benny wrote a duet for the two to sing at their wedding. The night before.

    They did great, though! :)

    pasadena-wedding-photos-30.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-56.JPG

    At the end of the ceremony, everyone knew something very special was about to happen…

    pasadena-wedding-photos-31.JPG

    …a first kiss! Like for real. First. Very first time they kissed. SWEEEET!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-32.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-33.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-34.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-35.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-36.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-37.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-38.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-41.JPG

    Benny and Eileen LOVE donuts. They love them so much, they decided to forego a traditional wedding cake and have a donut instead! They cut a rather large donut, and guests were given normal donuts. So fun!

    pasadena-wedding-photos-42.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-43.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-39.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-44.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-45.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-46.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-47.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-48.JPG

    I stayed an extra day and did an “Encore Session” for Benny and Eileen at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

    pasadena-wedding-photos-49.JPG

    There’s not a lot of tall bamboo in the midwest. I love traveling for weddings and getting to create in different environments.

    pasadena-wedding-photos-50.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-51.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-52.JPG

    We had positively dreamy light near the end of the session…

    pasadena-wedding-photos-53.JPG

    pasadena-wedding-photos-54.JPG

    The sun was set and we were on our way back to the entrance, when I saw these awesome roots. We had to stop for just a few more photos. :)

    pasadena-wedding-photos-55.JPG