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Why choose Joe and Kari?

Why indeed? There are literally thousands of other photographers out there!

Why choose us, and really, what are you paying for?

Why choose Joe and Kari?

Why indeed! There are literally thousands of other photographers!

Why choose us, and what exactly are you paying for?

WE LIVE IN ESTES PARK!

I'll explain why this is significant...

Our love for photography started in Iowa City where we are from. I (Joe) started shooting portraits for a friend’s site, mostly business portraits and such. In the meantime, my sister had moved to Estes Park and we visited many times. About that same time, Kari’s cousin asked me to shoot their wedding.

My response to her cousin?

Let me think about it.

My response in my head?

Hell no.

Up until this point, the only weddings I had attended were at big churches filled with a lot of screaming kids, people who the bride and groom barely knew, and a reception of potato salad and fried chicken. (This is mostly a reference to my own wedding to Kari, long ago.)

After a lot of prompting from Kari, I decided it would be ok. I did my research, understood what was needed of me, and shot the wedding. It was about twenty people, in the woods, and it was nothing short of spectacular.

As soon as I got home from the wedding, I knew I had uncovered something in me that I hadn’t seen before. I started to research good photographers and started to teach myself how to shoot. There are a million resources out there for aspiring photographers and I dove in headfirst. I took six months off of my day job, sat in front of my computer for hours and hours every day, and absorbed art and photography like a sponge. Not only did I study wedding photography, but landscapes, photojournalism, and portraiture. I knew that if I wanted to be exceptional at this I needed to at least have a moderate understanding of all facets of it.

I studied everyone! My favorites? Rodney Smith (by far, my personal favorite!) Henri Cartier-Bresson, Chris Orwig, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz (of course!) as well as an entire cast of amazing wedding photographers.

After shooting many weddings at this time, Kari started to shoot with me and we quickly became a team. Her work is beautiful and I couldn’t ever go back to shooting solo. In fact, probably more than half of the images on the site are hers. She’s picked up on this art so much more quickly than I did, probably due to her history with painting.

At this same time, my sister and brother in law sent me a text with a house for sale around the corner from them. It was a longshot, but we decided to start thinking about a move to Estes Park.

This was the first step in a dream that took over three years to realize.

We sold our beautiful, big home with four bedrooms and four bathrooms in a beautiful part of town and moved into a fixer upper that was less than half the size. The money we saved, we put aside in an account for our move. We started to advertise in the Estes Park area and did our own SEO to get our name noticed out there.

Understand, a home in Iowa that is a beautiful four bedroom, 2500 square foot home will trade for a one bedroom, one bath fixer upper in Estes Park. (This was eight years ago, before the housing bubble hit Estes Park) Moving to a place known for being a mountain paradise isn’t something you can just do overnight. It took a lot of planning, selling things, and the realization that we would be away from most of our families. After we had saved, changed lifestyles, and made sure of our decision, we put a deposit down on the home that my sister had sent us. We knew that if we were going to move, we were going to do it right.

We wanted to be IN the mountains, not near the mountains.

The front range is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but we knew that it would be a drive to get to anywhere that our couples would be wanting.

All of that being said, we moved about three years after we started to discuss the possibility. Estes Park was our new home and we started making friends immediately. Knowing that rock climbing, mountain biking, and trail running were high on our lists already, we didn’t waste time getting to know our local national park, RMNP. It is a ten minute drive from our home and we still frequent it as often as possible.

Why the long story? We really love this area. It truly is a beautiful place to call home. It’s important that our couples know that this wasn’t a “whim” or “just a quick thing”.

For us to live here is truly…

OUR DREAM

…and we don’t take it lightly. We study this place, and we know it very well. It’s really our job to.

There are a lot of kind, talented, and thoughtful photographers that shoot here in Estes Park from the front range. If you like their work that’s great!

We are all for traveling photographers! Heck, we’ve traveled to Iceland twice, Cancun, Alaska, Italy, France, Belize, and hit all three coasts on the United States! If you have someone in mind to shoot your session, great! If you want local knowledge, an understanding of hidden locations, weather patterns, vendor relationships, and venues, do your research!

It is our pleasure to know as much as we can about this amazing town and RMNP so we can share it with you in ways that others are unable to.

So...just what does being a "local" mean?

More than I originally thought, for sure!

Being a local means...

• Knowing the area well...

Getting into RMNP on a regular basis, in all seasons, is a constant. We love our local national park and we are there often! This gives us the opportunity to stop, walk around, and scout new areas a lot. It has provided us with a numbered list of places that are not known and that we love. Some are just a few steps from the road, some are an hour long hike to a fantastic peak.

• Staying close to vendors...

Flowers, hair and makeup artists, cake artists, and caterers. We know them by name and can refer the best to you. We have worked with each extensively and can tell you a bit about each one.

• Keeping tabs on venues...

We have worked at each of the local venues many times over. We can guide you to make a good decision about what to expect from each. We also have a local vendor guide to go over with you, should you desire. We have been honored, incredibly, to be called when a venue has a new feature and they want it photographed. It's usually a five minute drive!

• Understanding weather patterns...

Often, very often, our couples are concerned with the weather here. Rightfully so! It is, after all, at 7500 feet above sea level and tucked in the mountains! Living here gives us insight into what to expect on your day. We know that the sunlight in the evening is better than morning light. We know that the sun sets sooner in certain areas and later in others, depending on which side of the park we are in.

Hire a local...

...even if it's not us!

Local knowledge is key. If you want to get the best photos by someone who knows, hire a local photographer. There are a few of us who actually live here in Estes Park that honestly care about impeccable photography and beautiful art.

Do yourself a favor that will last. When you are in contact with a photographer, ask them where they live.

You’ll be surprised.

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