Amy & Jordan

About Amy & Jordan Photography

We fell in love in high school. When there was nothing more important than the homecoming dance. When a driver’s license was a commodity. When passing notes was an art form. We were young little pups ready to take on the world.

Today, we are a husband and wife photography team based in Scottsdale, Arizona. We are passionate about marriage and blessed to do what we love together. If you would like to know more, visit our website using the link above.

Lord, It’s a Fire!

The Pink Slip Files | No. 16

In our first few years of marriage, Amy spent a lot of evenings at home by herself while Jordan coached at the soccer fields to help give back to a game that had given him so much, and also earn a little extra money for our camera gear fund. Amy held down the fort, took care of the laundry and thanked her lucky stars for Meredith Grey, who kept her company while she graded fourth grade spelling tests. It was a typical Thursday night, and she’d placed her go-to home-alone dinner (a cheese quesadilla) in the toaster oven, just as the screen on her phone lit up. “I’m outside!” the text message read. Dressed in house shorts and a t-shirt, Amy threw on some flip flops and headed out to her friend Teri’s truck. Teri was dropping off a key for Amy, but it’d been a few days since they’d seen each other, and as girls do, they couldn’t help but start chatting and catching up on everything that had been happening. One topic quickly lead to the next, each laugh bringing up a new subject to discuss. Lost in conversation and loving their time together, they found themselves still standing in the driveway under the night sky without a care in the world thirty minutes later. Just two friends catching up on life. Small, unimportant things, but life things, like when Teri mentioned, “Yeah, I just finished up dinner and–“

Amy’s heart stopped. Her eyes widened.

“Dinner?” Her heart started to pound. She gasped and shouted, “DINNER!!!

“I gotta go!!!” she said in a panic as she sprinted back towards the door.

She flung open the door. And that’s when she saw it.

Smoke. Black smoke. A dark cloud of wispy mist and a smell of charcoal. Like a cartoon character whose feet were moving TOO fast, she stayed in exactly the same place for a split second as her feet tried to bring her into the abyss. She must have kicked up a storm of dust before she got enough traction to move an inch. She covered her mouth in horror when she stepped inside. Unable to see much of anything, she bolted from room to room — starting in the kitchen to turn off the toaster oven — opening every window to let out the smoke that had invaded each room and enveloped the ceiling like on an overcast day. She turned on every fan and opened every door as the smoke floated in every direction. You guys, it was like a scene from any great firefighter movie. All she needed was a helmet and mask.

Thank goodness she didn’t get bronchitis. Ain’t nobody to time for that. 

Once the smoke started its gradual departure from house and the proverbial (and literal) dust began to clear, Amy (ashamedly) crept back into the kitchen to confront the smoke’s source.

And when she saw it. She gasped, reached for the oven mitts and then couldn’t help but laugh at herself. This would happen to her. Jordan prepares (and has always prepared) all the food in our house and she’s only ever been allowed in the kitchen for things that don’t involve knives, screws, or anything that runs on gas or electric (which basically limits her to pre-popped popcorn, chocolate, and cereal). In fact, she routinely describes the kitchen as “not my natural habitat.” And oh, Internet, it’s not. It’s really not. And there was no better proof of that than what she pulled out of the toaster over that night. Among the billows of smoke, she saw it.

Nothing fancy. Not blackened chicken or smoked salmon or charbroiled beef. Certainly not rocket science.

Nope. There it was in all its glory. A pitch-black, charred-to-the-core quesadilla. And what has now become permanent evidence that the kitchen will be off-limits for Amy from here to eternity.

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Want to catch up on The Pink Slip Files? You can read them all right here:

Intro: What Are the Pink Slip Files?
No. 1: Failing Pre-Marital Class & Otter DNA
No. 2: Sink or Swim
No. 3: Turning Off the Lights
No. 4: Leave a Message at the Tone
No. 5: Chocolates, Mystery Shows & Honeymooning
No. 6: Cutting Coupons & Wal-Mart Jeans
No. 7: Paper Chains of Memories
No. 8: Dancing on Bar Tops
No. 9: Man’s Best (Feline) Friend
No. 10: Confessions of a Waffle Fry
No. 11: What’s So Important About Shoelaces?
No. 12: Breaking Records… Like It’s 1924
No. 13: Why We’re Not as Classy as We Thought
No. 14: A Letter to My Only Starbucks Lover
No. 15: The Night We Killed Someone (Kind Of)
No. 16: Lord, It’s a Fire!

Leslie & Robby

Hotel Palomar | Downtown Phoenix

“I have to tell you a secret,” she beamed as we walked together toward our cars. We’d just finished Leslie and Robby’s engagement session, and all four of us were talking and laughing and reflecting on the photos we’d just completed. The pair was such a perfect match together, and we’d just explored all the nooks and crannies of the Hotel Palomar, capturing their relationship in this sleek, urban setting. We pulled ahead of Robby, just out of earshot, as she leaned in close and whispered, “I’m wearing a blush dress.” A huge smile spread across her face as she clapped her hands together and said, “I just can’t wait!”

We knew we’d be in for a treat on Leslie and Robby’s wedding day, but it was even better than we could’ve ever expected. From the moment we arrived, sweet Leslie hugged us tightly and announced to everyone in the room, “THESE are my PEOPLE!” We couldn’t have asked for a warmer way to start the day. She positively beamed with every step she took, and when it came time for her to slip into her blush dress, her bridesmaids gasped with excited squeals at the sight of her. She was so beautiful and her love and enthusiasm was contagious. The squeals got louder and the anticipation built as the girls started to talk about what it would be like when Robby saw Leslie. The moment the two of them were together, the air was full of chemistry and they never took their eyes off each other. His eyes grew big, as he took in his bride-to-be, and after a smile spread across his face, all he could get out was “It’s pink!” She laughed, and clapped her hands together, the same way she had months earlier, and you could see in that moment that all her hard work, all her planning, everything she had dreamed of was finally coming true. The two swayed together on the city rooftop, and it was nothing short of magical. Leslie and Robby, thank you for loving us like family and trusting us completely. It was such an honor to capture your beautiful wedding day, and we’re so excited to share just a few of our favorites with you!

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the WEDDING TEAM…

Bride’s Dress: Maggie Sottero
Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden
Ceremony Location: Hotel Palomar Phoenix
Coordinator: Kelley Rence
Dessert Source: Piece of Cake
DJ: Push Play Entertainment
Getting Ready Location: Hotel Palomar Phoenix
Hair Stylist: Bree Anderson
Makeup Artist: Makeup By Jackie
Officiant: Keith Schreiber
Photographers: Amy & Jordan
Reception Location: Hotel Palomar Phoenix
Videographer: Chris Gilbreth

the GEAR USED for this WEDDING…

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50 1.2
Canon 70-200 2.8
Canon 100 2.8
Canon 24-70 2.8
Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT
Entire Gear List

5 Ways to Get Sharp Focus in Dark Receptions

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Let’s talk dark receptions. Really dark. Maybe it’s a dimly lit ballroom with dark walls and high ceilings. Maybe it’s an outdoor reception lit only by candles. These types of receptions can be beautiful to the naked eye, but can be a photographer’s nightmare without the right knowledge and tools. Especially when it comes to focusing. We’ve all been in a situation where our camera is trying so hard to focus, but the lens keeps jutting in and out and can’t lock because it doesn’t have enough light to do its job. We know this feeling well, and if just thinking about this scenario makes your palms start to sweat, you’re not alone! It’s just plain challenging to focus in extremely low light. It really is. But whether we have the house lights up or little to no light, it’s still our job as professionals to get the shot, regardless of the ambient light in the room. So, today, we’re going to tackle our top tips for shooting receptions in low light so that (hopefully) you’ll feel more confident at your next wedding to get crisp images even when you’ve got nothing to work with but a black sky!

1. Back-Button Focus
We shoot back-button focus all day, but it’s especially helpful during receptions when it’s challenging to focus over and over and over again. Back-button focusing is when you use the AF-ON button on the back of your camera to focus and the button near your index finger to work the shutter, instead of pressing your index finder halfway down to focus and the other half to click the shutter. It separates two things that normally come from the same button: focus and shutter. The beauty? If you can lock focus on your subject at a certain distance with back-button focus, as long as you keep the same distance to your subject, you don’t have to re-focus again. So, if you’re in a low light situation where it’s taking your camera minutes to find focus, just lock your focus once and you can get tons and tons of shots, instead of only one shot every time your camera focuses.

2. Use the Center Focal Point
On our Canon 5D Mark III camera bodies, the strongest focal point is the one right in the center. We toggle a lot during the wedding day, but during the reception sometimes the outer focal points just aren’t strong enough to lock in a sharp focus. Only the center one can. With back-button focus, we can lock our focus using the center focal point (which, again, is the strongest anyways), then recompose our frame and fire our shutter separately to get the shot. At some recent outdoor receptions, during toasts, none of our outer focal points could lock focus except the middle one. Since we knew that in advance, though, we didn’t spend precious seconds or minutes that we didn’t have toggling around hoping to lock in. We stuck with the center focal point right from the start, and it didn’t fail us.

3. Look for Contrast 
Most of the time, our cameras can’t focus on our subject’s faces because it’s just too dark and there’s not enough contrast for the camera to pick it up. So, instead, during most receptions when there’s not enough ambient (existing) light in the room (or outdoor reception) to focus on our subject’s eye (our first preference) or their face (our second preference), we look for the spot on a man’s jacket where the white shirt meets the dark coat. Maybe it’s the lapel on the chest. Maybe it’s the shirt collar on the back of his neck. For ladies, it could be the contrast between her skin and dress straps (although the black and white contrast of the shirt and coat is best). We’ve realized over time that, even at an aperture of f/2.8, we’re still solidly in focus when we focus on the clothes. We’ve also had success focusing on a man’s tie.

And even at a very recent wedding, during the husband and wife game, Amy was shooting the groom while Jordan was shooting the bride, and he was able to get focus between the bride’s hand and the giant wooden letters she was holding. So, when she would put her hands down and wait for the DJ to ask his question, Jordan focused on her hand and the letter (bumped his aperture to f/4 to allow for the extra distance between her lap where she was resting her hand and her face) and then just recomposed and fired the shutter using back-button focus.

4. Focus on Something that Isn’t a Person
During outdoor toasts, sometimes it can be almost impossible to get parents’ reactions in focus because there’s no ambient light to illuminate their faces. Here’s a trick for that: don’t focus on the person. Sometimes objects come into focus more easily than people. At a recent wedding, Jordan couldn’t get the camera to lock focus on one of the parents during toasts. None of the tricks above were working, so he focused on the subject’s water glass (close to candle) about one foot in front of where she was sitting. At that point, he knew that his focus was locked ten feet from anywhere he was standing. She was about eleven feet away. So, to get her in focus, he just took one baby step forward, and she was in focus, because the distance between him and his subject hadn’t changed. It was still ten feet. That’s really the beauty of back-button focusing in action, because it would’ve been so distracting to pop a video light in Mom’s face while she was listening to toasts.

5. Step Into a Hallway Where There’s Ambient Light 
We shoot at a range of f/2.8 – f/5.6 at receptions depending what we’re shooting and how low the light is. If there’s plenty of ambient light and focusing is a cinch and it’s during toasts where no one’s moving, we love f/2.8. The same even goes for dancing if we’re able to focus and shoot, focus and shoot, and focus and shoot. If, however, the ambient light is lower and it’s really challenging to get focus, we like higher apertures and here’s why: we can step out into a hallway where there is ambient light (or even flash our cell phone on the other person on the dance floor), get focused from a certain distance (let’s call it three big steps), and then never touch our focus again. You heard that right! Never touch our focus again. Because if we’re shooting at an aperture of f/4 or higher and we just keep our distance of about three big steps from whatever we’re shooting, it’ll all still be in focus because the focus is locked with back-button. Are you sold yet?!

Well, friends, we hope the next time you walk into a dark reception you’ll feel confident with this checklist of tools to help you get all of your important shots in focus! Have a great week!

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If you liked this post, you might also like How to Take Sharp Family and Group Portraits or 3 Tips for Better Toast Photos.

Aleks & Kevin

The Hearn House | Phoenix, Arizona

Aleks and Kevin’s gorgeous wedding day was a full day of “firsts,” for us, and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more! We just love when couples really make their wedding day completely their own, and this wedding was so personal, so unique, so them. It was our first time ever shooting at the historic Hearn House, and we had so much fun shooting a wedding that made us completely forget we live in the desert for the day! The big, overgrown trees and lush greenery of the setting were such a change (and a treat) for us, and with breathtaking floral design by one of our favorite florists, Sarah’s Garden, combined with the styling talents of Christie Remar, we were in total heaven. Aleks and Kevin were also our first couple to ever serve breakfast for dinner, and we’ve gotta say, we are officially HUGE fans of this idea! The food was such a hit with the guests (and the photographers!) There is just something so fun about the smell of fresh waffles and crisp bacon, and it set the perfect tone for their whole celebration. It was just so fun to see Aleks and Kevin create an entire day that felt so them, and watch them enjoy every mint of it. From the couple sharing their first kiss at the other end of the aisle, to their first dance underneath the open sky, the whole affair was such a beautiful reflection of a couple we love with all our hearts. Here are a few of our favorites from their whimsical wedding day.

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If you liked this post, you might also like Gloria & Josh’s El Chorro Wedding or Laura & Dave’s Handmade Tennessee Wedding

Venue: The Hearn House
Floral Design: Sarah’s Garden
Designer Venues, Wedding Decor & More: Christi Ramer
Catering: Fresh from the Kitchen
Dessert: Cakes by MooShu
DJ: Ray the DJ
Hair: Diane Taylor
Makeup: Bourgeoise Belle
Paper Products: Tiny Prints
Sweetheart Table, Altar Florals & Cake Table: Christi Ramer

the GEAR USED for this WEDDING…

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50 1.2
Canon 70-200 2.8
Canon 100 2.8
Canon 24-70 2.8
Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT
Entire Gear List

 

Sarah & Kurt

Oh, friends! You know those people in life who evoke these two reactions the first time you meet them:

1. Smile!

2. Let’s be friends!

That’s what happened with Sarah and Kurt!

We met Sarah months ago over Skype to talk details about her wedding in Arizona. She’s a doctor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. We can totally relate to that! In the sense that we watch medical shows like House and Grey’s Anatomy. For all the House fans out there, it’s NEVER lupus, and for the Grey’s fans of the world, it’s McSteamy (or was — bad joke!) not McDreamy, although he’s a pretty good consolation prize. Can we get an amen, ladies?

Anyways, back to the real doctor and her real-life prince-charming: Kurt. We met him just a few minutes before we started snapping the shutter, and let us tell you, he. turned. that. smile. on! We laughed our way through the entire session so much that our cheeks hurt by the end probably as much as theirs! One of the biggest blessings in our business this year has been out-of-state clients, like Sarah and Kurt, who we click with in an instant and WISH lived here! Warning to all of our non-desert clients: be prepared for a few heat refugees when temperatures spike this summer! 

Sarah and Kurt, we can’t even begin to tell you how thankful we are for clients new friends like you. You brightened our afternoon with your infectious smiles and effortless kindness. We love you both and hope you love these highlights of our time together as much as we do!

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the GEAR USED for this SESSION…

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50 1.2
Canon 70-200 2.8
Entire Gear List

 

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