Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of new brides-to-be during the annual Montana Bridal Tour event at the 1915 Barn in Bozeman, Montana. Greener Visuals Photography has participated in the Fall bridal event (run by the talent event planner Abby Turner, of Reed & Lee Event Planning) for the past couple of years and really enjoy the face time connection with all of the excited brides as they begin their wedding planning process. As a whole, the Montana Bridal Tour is a chance for the newly engaged couples in the Gallatin Valley to tour multiple wedding venues around the Bozeman area and meet talented wedding vendors at each location. For a fun-filled day, four buses rotate driving participants from place to place where they get to sample the wares, get inspiration for their own wedding day and ask questions to participating wedding vendors. It’s so much fun to see the excitement on their faces.

In between chatting with brides all day long, I made some photos from the event at the 1915 Barn in Bozeman, Montana. For information on attending next year’s tour, you can visit their website here. What a fun day. -M

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon making photographing business portraits of my friend Sue, of Wild Blume Floral Design, in her home studio. I love watching other artists work to create something beautiful. Sue is a talented lady and worked quickly to construct some lovely bouquets on the spot. Here are some favorites from my time with her. The next time you are in need of some beautiful floral arrangements to give to a loved one in Bozeman, Montana, Sue is happy to oblige. -M

Had a great time meeting the brides and other Bozeman wedding vendors at the 2015 A Montana Wedding Magazine The Bridal Event in Bozeman, Montana last Saturday at the Best Western GranTree Inn. Here are some photos I made throughout the day. Great food, beautiful flowers and inspiration abound for the local brides-to-be. Well done to the advertising staff of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle for hosting such a great event. And congrats to Kerry for winning my free photo engagement session in the grand prize drawing. All the best to all the recently engaged! Looking forward to next year’s event. -M

For more photos of the event click here.

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I‘ve been photographing weddings for the past nine years all over the country. Being a destination wedding photographer (now based in Bozeman, Montana) has been the perfect blend of my love for telling stories with pictures and love for adventure and exploring new places. Last year my wedding photography took me from the southern charms of Charleston, South Carolina to the mountains of Vail, Colorado onto San Francisco, California and to the rustic Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana. So much fun. I’ve been blessed to photograph some really wonderful wedding couples. What started out as a fun gigs for friends at weddings, has cultivated into a wonderful creative outlet I want in my future. Over the past decade, my wedding photography business has been running solely on word of mouth and organic searches on the interwebs. In all that time, I’ve never had an opportunity for a physical public display to showcase my wedding photography business. Last weekend given my first chance. I was honored to be apart of the Bozeman Bridal Affaire 2014 held at the Strand Union Ballroom on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman, Montana. It was the first bridal fair that my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography has participated in. It was important to me that it made a good first impression.

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Working with a 10 x 10 ft space, we would need to get creative both in design and in how we would transport my photography display booth. Sometimes I can be stubborn. I was not willing to sacrifice visual impact for ease of transportation especially if my booth was to make a big splash with those in attendance. I’m a strong guy. But after a car accident years ago that left me with constant back aches, I needed to consider the weight of it all. My booth would represent my formal “Howdy!” as the new photographer in town to the brides of southwest Montana in attendance but also to all of the other wedding vendors in the area. Which made me ponder some concepts like what should my brand look like? What kind of feeling should my booth convey to wedding couples moving through wedding maze within the MSU campus ballroom? Being able to show fun, wedding photos is one thing, packaging it with the feel of my overall brand was another. I had never done anything like it before.

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What a cool opportunity. I discovered it to be a wonderful exercise to get me to think differently. With my logo as the starting point of inspiration, I began piecing together the branding puzzle. I’ve always loved the old rustic feel of Montana that I  experienced visiting family as a kid here every summer growing up. The color schemes of Montana are like no other place on earth. Besides the gorgeous mountain streams filled with trout and jagged rocky peaks, what stood out to me was always seeing the old abandoned barns or homesteads worn down by the environmental elements to the point that they grey out and become part of the Montana scenery. Rough around the edges. Beautifully imperfect.

I wanted to replicate that feeling so dear to me onto my future wedding clients. So, I sketched out some concepts and drove over to my parents house in Missoula to seek the assistance of my woodworking savy dad. Bonus that it was a fun father and son woodworking project. Together, we set out to build a display that would catch the eye of engaged couples and give a powerful, first impression showcasing my style and brand of Greener Visuals Wedding Photography. It was a great challenge. The display needed to have a big visual impact in size, great lighting and many large photos. We were still brewing up a concrete design, when we drove down into the valley and checked out Home Resource, an incredible nonprofit building materials reuse center in Missoula, Montana. Having “green” in my name, I decided “being green” would be a cool concept to incorporate into my new brand building project. We ended up finding a bunch of beautiful, old reclaimed barn wood planks, insulated sheet metal heating ducts and some really nice track lighting. Now that we had raw materials, so began our visualization of how it would all come together.

Many questions needed to be answered. How to showcase my wedding photography with a professional look but also make it stand out by being unique in my approach? How could I convey something personal? What feelings would brides experience from seeing my display? I had to figure out what my goals were. I consider myself a wedding storyteller. To emphasize that point, I knew I wanted to show my potential wedding clients an entire wedding story in pictures. The ultimate way to show them exactly what they would expect to get by hiring me as their wedding photographer. That meant I would need to show quite a few photos for just that purpose. Showcasing to Montana brides, I decided to feature Ashley & David’s Montana wedding story, one of my favorite weddings I photographed from my 2013 wedding season at the Teller Wildlife Refuge in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. It was also important to highlight some of my best images to show the range of emotion, moments and range of my photojournalistic photography style. All good thinking but I was limited financially. Print costs can add up quickly. Rather than make the investment of expensive canvas prints (a very popular, beautiful option used by photographers for displaying photos), I decided instead to be more versatile and chose to print out regular photo paper images instead. To me there is still nothing more impactful than seeing a physical photograph in print. After all, every picture tells a story.

Over two weekends, my dad and I created a large four panel, self-standing, framed display where I could use rare earth magnets to hold my wedding photos across the framed metal backdrop. It was different and I was pleased. To add to the visual impact of my images, we fastened the track lighting to a reclaimed long barn wood plank and anchored it across the top to link the two large frames. We rigged the whole lighting system to a dimmer switch which allowed me to dial in the perfect light to accent my photography. Add a screw to hang my business sign and like that, a paper concept comes into fruition. I was very pleased with the ending results. The best part is that it all breaks down in size where it can be easily carried and will fit into the back of my Subaru Outback. Score! A big thank you to my dad, John, for all of his assistance and use of his tools.

Last Friday evening, I hauled it all over to the Bridal Affaire, and got it all set up in anticipation for the all day event on Saturday. My booth was a huge hit. Besides my build display I was able to display wedding albums and more information about my photographic services. I had an awesome time meeting a lot of excited, newly-engaged couples and hearing about their wedding plans. How exciting it must be for them. It was a really good feeling to see folks engage with my photography. I got as many complements on my booth as I did on my wedding photography. In the end, I’ll call it a big win for the day and a great stepping stone in my photographic journey. The best news is that my phone has been ringing. I’m already looking forward to the new wedding stories I will get to tell this year. -M

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I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now. Ever since the beginning of May it has been go go go weddings the entire time. A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of returning home to find a big package delivered to my doorstep…Gillian and Jeff’s brand new wedding album from West Coast Albums. These are a new style of wedding albums that I am offering to my clients as a higher end wedding album option. They are really stunning. Gillian and Jeff opted for a 12″x 8″ gold fabric cover with a olive colored book spine and a recessed cover image of them under their wedding altar. Some of the things I love most about these wedding albums are handmade, totally customizable both in size, color, cover material and the pages lay flush and flat. I don’t care who you are in this digital age there is still something to be said for holding a fine print photo album in your hands.

I’ve really been impressed with this album company and I’m thrilled to be able to offer it to my wedding clients.

After all of the excitement is photographed on the wedding day, the long hours editing and the careful attention to make each photo look it’s best, there comes the point in the process of hiring Greener Visuals Wedding Photography that brings the experience full circle…the delivery of the photos to the bride and groom. For the longest time I would send my clients their DVD of images in a simple, paper based disc holder. My wedding photography business redesign offered me a chance to ferment on how I was operating things throughout my business and a chance for me to improve on them. I knew I wanted to make my presentation from start to finish stand out. I want my clients to be proud of their wedding photography and be able to show it off to friends and family whenever they want. I knew I needed to raise the bar. I found my answer in Jewelboxing cases. These high quality cases are durable, have a sleek, modern look and are beautifully designed. They are a perfect way to preserve my clients wedding memories for decades to come. I’m thrilled to have them as a new standard for my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography clients.

When my wedding planner friend Catrina, of Catrina Maria Designs asked me to speak about green wedding photography at last week’s monthly meeting of the Sacramento NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) I was both excited at the proposition and a bit panicked. It has been many moons since I last made a big public presentation and the thought of it made me pause. But the idea of “going green” has been on my mind for years now and this was a great opportunity to think about how I could make my wedding photography business even more sustainable. So…What makes a green photography business?

From film to digital and how it has changed photographer’s workflow. A very brief history.

Back in the days of film there was substantial waste. The whole photography workflow was comprised of a wide variety of chemicals used in film development and print processing. There was a lot of waste ranging from spent developing chemicals that usually found their way down a drain to scrape photo paper emulsions being tossed in the trash. It was the chemicals (developing baths, stop baths, fixing baths, and rinse steps) themselves that were the most problematic. Many of them had limited shelf life and also could be hazardous to your health over extended periods of time.

These days most photographers have gone digital both from an ecological and economical standpoint. Digital photography offers a paperless and chemical-free way to capture an event, including being able to view online proofs before deciding which ones to print if at all. The transition from film to digital has greatly diminished the amount of waste produced from professional photographers.

In many ways you can say that the professional photography realm has naturally progressed towards many of the practices the green movement. But what business practices make up a green photographer? In other words, how can one make their photography business greener?

Making your wedding business greener?

It comes down to a self-evaluation of how your business operates and identifying things that can be improved on. Start at the core of the green movement with the 3 R’s –Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The following is a list of things you can use to help green up your business.

Printing less stuff equals having less paper waste

You can help reduce this waste by using as little paper as possible, and being smart about the paper you do use. If paper is a necessity, using recycled paper can help. Evaluate your workflow and figure out how you use paper products. Is printing out emails and other documents pertinent to your productivity? Try keeping your digital files organized in their digital format. You can keep emails in your inbox but organize them in a way that makes them easier to find and reference. Many online email providers like gmail.com have made this step nearly effortless. It’s always a good idea to make back-up copies of important files and emails but instead of storing boxes of paper files, consider keeping them on an external hard drive. When you do need to print important documents, make sure you use a sustainable paper, and set your printer or copier to print on both sides of the page.

With unlimited storage online and the concepts of cloud storage system it is easier than ever to go digital with your documents and photography by merging that information into your online presence.

I try to have as much information on my website as possible. I have purposely chosen not to have my website based in Flash and instead have it based off of a WordPress CSS based blog format from Graph Paper Press. The open source code allows for faster load times and uses a fraction of energy consumption of Flash sites. Flash based websites consume a ton of energy to upload, are slow and worse of all they are invisible to search engine optimization algorithms like Google.

A great way to reduce paper use and get contracts and documents signed more quickly is to use electronic signatures programs. I am sold on ShootQ.com and I am slowly integrating it into my workflow. It’s a virtual studio manager that assisting me from the moment a prospective client contacts me through my website to the delivery of the photos. The program helps you manage the workload, stay organized, it provides a place for your packages and rates to be password protected online until the final images are delivered. Your entire business workflow is online with minimum to no paper waste.

The digital workflow also allows me to post the entire digital wedding take online for proofing instead of printing out a bunch of proof sheets for my clients. There are plenty of online photo archival sites that let clients search my full wedding take. It allows them to make print purchases, and/or download low-res images purchases for social media purposes instantly online. I use online photography photo storage company called Photoshelter but there are others like Pictage that can be good options.

Some other practices I’m integrating into my business are…

-Using rechargeable batteries in strobes to offset the waste of used batteries going into land fills. I’ve started using Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. They have a higher price tag than alkaline batteries up front but the price is offset by the amount you can use them. They can be recycled hundreds of times. This fact can take the cost down to less than couple cents per energy cell over time. Sure, it costs some money for the power to charge them. But that is minor compared to the cost of replacing an alkaline batteries over time.

-I’m printing my business cards on 100% recycled paper from a great business card company called Moo.com. For a less expensive option check out PSPrint.com

-I buy more energy efficient hard drives for storing photos

-I try to buy used camera gear when possible if it’s in good condition like my new, used Nikon D3 pictured above.

-I strive to keep all of my equipment clean and free from dust. This helps my electronics run more efficiently. This also saves me a ton of time having to photoshop out dust spots on my images.

I have all of my electronics – computer, printer, external hard drive, and other office gadgets plugged into one power strip. By turning it off you can ensure that none of your appliances are secretly robbing energy. I was surprised to learn through my research that cell phone chargers left plugged into a wall when you’re not using them still draw energy, regardless of whether there’s anything plugged into them.

So…in conclusion, how can you sell your clients on green photography practices?

-Encourage brides to buy prints of only the photos they really want.

-Offer your brides an option to buy digital wedding albums or if they want a physical wedding album have green album options made from recycled material. Plenty of great choices out there like Wild Magnolia Design Albums

-Offer the option of them receiving their images on flash drives for photo delivery instead of DVDs. They are reusable and double as a cool promo for your business. There are numerous companies out there that can do this like FlashBay

-If brides insist on a DVD, (which most do) design it so that it will be something they will cherish. I use Jewelboxing.com cases that allow me to create beautiful high quality jewel display cases. They are durable, they look fantastic and with the right design can really make an impression on your clients.

-Eliminate the need for lots of camera flash use by encouraging your wedding clients to have their ceremony/reception in naturally lit areas for the wedding which could also mean just having their wedding earlier in the day (having a venue with lots of windows saves energy and creates beautiful soft light for photos).

Remember that becoming green is not about being perfect on day one. Making a commitment to the environment is an ongoing process. Take it in small steps. It can be easier than you think. All the best. Go Green.

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of attending my first Sacramento Swop Meet attended by of all of the local wedding vendors from around the Sacramento area. The event, a bi-monthly social mix-up, was hosted by the editorial staff of Sacramento Bride and Groom magazine at the beautiful Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, CA. I saw the gathering as the perfect opportunity to introduce myself and my business, Greener Visuals Wedding Photography, to all of the wedding planners, florists, DJs, venue managers and other photographers in my area. I’m quickly learning that so much of what makes a business great is who you know and your willingness to help out others. I found the whole experience a really inviting one. From the moment I walked in the door, SacBride.com publisher Tami Miller and saleswoman Lisa Duncan took turns showing me around and introducing me to the other vendors. I spent the evening mingling, enjoying the complimentary drinks and appetizers while learning about my fellow wedding vendors. I met a lot of great, friendly people who were anxious to tell me about their businesses. I was struck by the stories they related to me about how they became involved in the wedding industry. No two people had the same story as to how they got involved in weddings, but it was clear that each was passionate about their specialized area. Everyone I spoke with was so generous with their time and knowledge. For a young up-and-coming wedding photographer like myself, I was very impressed with the sense of community the event provided. How great is it that these professionals gather together to network, make friends, all sharing the common goal of creating a better experience for potential wedding couples. It was immediately apparent that everyone was on the same page. I’m already looking forward to the next meet-up.

Greener Visuals featured on Blurb.com

I have to say one of the best complements I can receive for my wedding photography is when others recognize my work, especially if it’s a national book making company like Blurb.com. I just found out that I am a featured photographer on their new wedding book website. I got a call from the folks at Blurb a couple weeks ago complementing me on the creativity of the numerous wedding albums that I have designed for my wedding couples and they wanted to know why I chose to use their services for my wedding business After using Blurb to publish my first book “Shopping for Dynamite – A Brotherly Adventure to South America,” I was sold. I found the quality of the books to be top tier. Everything from the color reproduction to the thickness of the paper to the look and feel of their ImageWrap book covers.

The San Francisco based company has taken notice of all the great impressions their custom made books are making on people, myself included, and are now actively marketing to professional wedding photographers. And they should. This isn’t your grand parents dusty wedding album. Their wedding albums go above and beyond the typical wedding mementos. I started using them for my wedding albums soon after my first book and they have been a big hit with my brides ever since. I couldn’t be happier with them and I’m flattered that Blurb.com has chosen to feature me on their wedding book website.

2011. Oh the possibilities. To ring in the new year, I celebrated with some good friends from around Davis, California. We had a great time. Here is some fun pictures from my photo booth that I set up at a friend’s house party. I can’t wait to see all of the opportunities the new year will bring. Happy New Year everybody! -M






The Greener Visuals photo booth is open for business. For it’s inaugural run at Zack and Anna’s wedding, the photo booth was an instant success. The idea was to set up a camera rig that would allow all of the guests of the wedding to make photos of themselves from a remote radio camera trigger. I had never done this before so there was a bit of a learning curve. Despite the frigid mountain temperatures numerous people found their way over to make some pretty creative photos with the help of the costume box from distinguished members of the UCDavis Ecology crew. Thanks for your help guys! I uploaded the entire take to show the progression of the evening. To see more of the fun go here. Truly a great time was had by all.