Sheena Harper Photography

Idaho City of Rocks Weddings

The stunning backdrop of both City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park in Almo, Idaho make these parks a the perfect venue for an off the beaten path adventure elopement.

Castle Rocks State Park Ranch Unit has everything you need for a laid back, intimate vow exchange in a wilderness setting any time of year. There is even a pavillion that can be used for a reception called the Castle Rock Shelter which can be reserved through www.ReserveAmerica.com for only $37.10 for the entire day (7 a.m.—10 p.m.).

There are also a couple of rustic lodging options, The Lodge and The Bunkhouse. They are both available year-round and are perfect rental facilities for a small group of friends or family to stay with you for your wedding. For more information visit the national park website at https://www.nps.gov/ciro/planyourvisit/castle-rock-lodge-bunkhouse-and-willow-glamping-yurt.htm

Rustic Colorado Couples Session

I believe that winter is the perfect time of year for an intimate couple’s engagement portrait session, especially if you are located somewhere like Colorado where it is sunny and beautiful almost all winter long. Clint and Megan live in Divide, Colorado and have a real passion for the great outdoors. Since moving to Colorado their favorite adventure has been the weekend they spent in Telluride mountain biking together. However, in the summer they enjoy many other activities together, including SUP or Stand up paddle boarding which they picked up in Texas. Besides the nearby larger reservoirs like Rampart, Spinney, and Tarryall Colorado however has a plethora of beautiful, hidden, off the beaten path, mountain lakes for them to paddle. So needless to say, they have a lot of fun adventure sessions ahead of them in the future.

Clint loves everything hunting although Megan isn’t as hardcore of a hiker, I thought including a ring image on a shed mule deer antler would be a nice touch to appeal to Clint’s more wild nature.
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You have probably picked up on the fact that I love all things rustic, so I was totally stoked when this rad couple chose this old homestead with this great barn for their intimate portraits.

These two are such a fun couple, I look forward to going on some adventures with them in the future! I’m so glad they found an adventurous soul like me to photograph their wedding at the Edgewood Inn in Woodland Park.

Grand Teton Engagement Pictures

It would have been a little bit disappointing after the drive all the way from Pocatello, Idaho if the weather didn’t work out for this winter engagement portrait session. So, I was totally stoked we arrived in Jackson Hole and it was a sunny bluebird day!

Katie and Jay thought they would be uncomfortable for their intimate couples session, but they are a really easy going couple which made them complete naturals in front of the camera! We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful evening for photos at Taggart lake. I can’t wait to work with them again in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming next month at their wedding.

Twin Falls Family Adventure Photography

Last month at the Pocatello Spring Fair at the Idaho State University Holt Arena the Perrine Man Press booth caught our full attention. Compared to all the other booths at the event, it really spoke to us. So, we stopped by there and ended up totally connecting with the owners over a love for the outdoors, traveling, and camping. (If you are not familiar with Perrine Man Press, you should be. It is an Idaho small business where they print their rad hand drawn Idaho designs on shirts, hats, stickers and more.)

Last weekend, we were able to make it over to Twin Falls and hike with them. I love visiting friends in new places and I love capturing genuine moments when families go on outdoor adventures together. I also love making pictures where a love of nature can shine through. This little hike along the Snake River down to Auger Falls was amazing. (It also looked like there are some fantastic mountain bike trails there as well, next time I’m bringing my bike!)

Anyways, I am so grateful for our very talented new adventure buddies and that they allowed me to photograph them. Candid lifestyle family portraits and exploring brand new awesome locations are so much fun for me. Besides, it was a gorgeous spring day for a hike to a remote waterfall and get to know them better. I hope you enjoy these photos of my new friends Kenj, Cory, Emmit and Chaco and are inspired to take your own little family outdoors.

 

 “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” ― Aldo Leopold

 

Please Leave No Trace in Our National Parks During the Shutdown

Here are a few tips on how to visit a National Park during the shutdown if you absolutely must…

First of all, it is going to be very difficult to responsibly visit the parks right now. Since December 21 visitors have been flocking to our national parks with visitor centers and other facilities closed. I know I would not enjoy visiting a national park in the condition they are in right now. I don’t recommend this, but I am not here to judge. I simply want to get some good information out to the public.

Instead of pointing fingers about how this happened and why the parks have remained accessible without staffing, please just help the situation! Who knows how long the parks could be in this position. If you are not lucky enough to live close to a national park to join a volunteer group to pick up trash, but want to do your part to save parks from further damage help get information on the seven Leave No Trace principles out to everyone you know. Not only is it important right now, but they are straightforward guidelines that everyone should follow in a variety of settings all year long to keep our parks clean and safe.

grand teton national park in the fall

As an adventure wedding and lifestyle portrait photographer with a degree in Outdoor Leadership, it was a no brainer to become a certified Leave No Trace trainer early in my career.

Leave No Trace (or LNT for short) has always been close to my heart, and now more than ever I am feeling the need to get the word out. Many of you know that I actually give an abbreviated Leave No Trace talk at the beginning of the hike at all of my photo shoots. (The 7 LNT principles were also the first thing I taught students on the backpacking trips I led as a student for Colorado State University in Pueblo.) But what many people don’t seem to know is that Leave No Trace is much more than the title of a 2018 movie filmed in the Pacific Northwest. LNT is a set of outdoor ethics created for protecting and preserving the environment that you are recreating in. A simple way to minimize your impact and enjoy our beautiful public lands in a sustainable way today that will ensure they will be kept pristine for future generations. I realize that not everyone will hold themselves to the level I do, but it seems like there is a lack of information out there, so I would like to share what I know.

There are seven key Leave No Trace principals are…

 

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

This principal is first because it is the most important one. My clients always know that planning any elopement anywhere in the great outdoors comes with the inherent risk of nature changing their itinerary completely. Part of planning ahead and preparing is having a plan B! Making alternate plans is a must when planning any type of outdoor event anywhere. Also, and let someone know where you’re going. I’ve shook Aron Ralston’s left hand and I know he wishes that he told someone where he went on the fateful trip in 2003.

 

  1. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Many people seem to be completely unaware that the ground is very fragile and alive in some places, (like at high elevations on the alpine tundra and low elevations on the cryptobiotic soil) and stomping your hiking boots all over it will kill it. Stay on trails, don’t tread on delicate ground and don’t make new campsites.

  1. Dispose of Waste Properly

Unfortunately, many of the park facilities are locked right now. Sometimes nature calls when you are out in the natural world and the excess waste that is being left behind is causing significant damage.

During my Environmental Leadership Internship with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute I lived and worked in a remote mountain basin for 30 days straight, with no real bathroom. If you’ve never pooped in a bucket or a bag, this is your lucky year. Sure, you can dig a 6”-8” cathole at least 200 feet from water and trail to bury your poop and TP in (don’t forget to bring a trowel), but if everyone does that there are going to be a lot of people pulling their pants down in the woods. Fortunately you don’t have to use your water bottle. Many outdoor retail stores sell portable toilets and biodegradable, disposable toilet-in-a-bag-type products. If you must visit a national park right now during the shutdown arrive prepared.

 

  1. Leave What You Find

What you see in the park stays in the park, simple as that. Except for trash. Plan ahead and prepare to pack everything you bring in back out and then some. Packing out what you bring in is a key part to LNT and keeping clean parks. But also be sure to bring extra trash bags to pack out trash in the park that isn’t yours. I have packed out some of the most disgusting things you could imagine finding 10 miles deep in the back-country of park, and for that I was thankful to have enough bags to triple bag it, because I couldn’t just leave it there.

 

  1. Minimize Campfire Impacts

Don’t make fires where they don’t belong, or better yet just don’t make a fire at all.

 

  1. Respect Wildlife

People have a hard enough time with this one while rangers are present, but it is more important than ever right now. It’s not only for your safety, but the safety of the wildlife as well. Don’t approach wildlife, and if they notice you that means that you are already too close to them.

 

  1. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

This is going to be tough right now, but if you see visitors behaving badly please kindly provide them with the proper guidance on how to enjoy the parks the right way.

They can also be found on the Leave No Trace website at: https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

 

The government shutdown should not be a free-for-all to disregard the rules and abuse some of the most amazing places in our country. I can’t believe the things that have happened while rangers are actually in the parks, like at Old Faithful in 2018. Now there are reports of unsupervised park visitors doing even more unsanitary and irresponsible things in the parks, leaving very poor examples of how to behave. Mature adults should not need oversight by rangers to clean up after themselves. We shouldn’t have to have staff present in the parks to tell us how to act and treat our national treasures; we should treat them with respect, as if they are our own lands, which they are. This is completely embarrassing; we should clean up after ourselves whether anyone is watching or not. These places federally protected for a very important reason. Our national parks are irreplaceable national treasures.

Now that you know the seven principals, you must have integrity and uphold these ethics and set a good example for the visitors who may come after you.

As a past National Park Service Ranger, I am passionate about preserving America’s Best Idea, The National Parks (also a 2009 documentary by Ken Burns). I believe that ultimately the most responsible thing we can do to protect and preserve our beloved national parks and federal lands is to set the example for others and stay out. The irreparable damage that is happening to some of the most majestic landscapes in our great country is completely preventable. The best recommendation at this point is to find an alternative place to recreate while the shutdown is still in effect, to prevent further harm to our precious national parks. Please temporarily explore alternative locations for your vacations and adventures, in parks that are not federal land. If you care, please don’t exasperate the problem. Do a little research and visiting new state lands or parks instead. Who knows, you may even find a place you like better and that turns out to be less crowded.

It is going to be an inconvenience, trust me, I know. I just drove by over 10 national parks over the past 3 weeks and for those of you who know me, I don’t ever drive past a national park! But this time I did. It really weighed on me, but I want to lead by example. My baby was going to start his very own National Parks passport book, but now his book is empty for 2019.

Use extreme caution if you choose to ignore my advice and enter a national park during the government shutdown. Even if you follow the LNT principals to plan ahead and let someone know where you’re going, and bring your ten outdoor essentials it’s really not a safe idea. The websites are not updated with information about the conditions the parks are in and some could be outright dangerous. Besides, accidents happen and in many parks there are no emergency services or law enforcement available.

Please encourage everyone you know to stay out of the national parks during the government shutdown and find a new location because unsupervised visitors can potentially cause irreversible damage and permanently disrupt fragile ecosystems without the proper information and education, like the Leave No Trace principals.

To enjoy the outdoors responsibly, we must respect nature, wildlife and other visitors. Please set a good example with your actions and “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

Who knows how much longer this will last or if the agency could even enforce a closure at this point.

The most important thing we can do is educate others on how to do the right thing – please share this article with the Leave No Trace principals and guidelines with all of your outdoor adventure enthusiast friends and family now because caring for our public lands and parks is all of our responsibility!

Affordable mountain towns in Colorado, Utah and Idaho

I couldn’t imagine living anywhere, but the west. The wide open spaces, 4 seasons, and the beautiful mountains! I love to spend as much time outdoors as I can, living as adventurously as I can. However, finding an affordable mountain town to call home can be challenging, so no wonder it is hard to find an affordable photographer for your wedding in the west, especially in the mountains of western Colorado!

I love this article on mountain towns that are actually affordable in Idaho, Utah and Colorado – https://livability.com/topics/real-estate/5-gorgeous-mountain-towns-you-can-actually-afford. Leadville is one of my all time favorite towns in Colorado. I love the rich mining history, the big mountains (the biggest mountain, Mt Elbert, Colorado’s tallest 14er is right outside of town), and how close it is to everything. And did I mention PB Brewing and Ski Joring? Ogden is close to a lot of great ski resorts and Salt Lake City with even more places to ski. Of course, Idaho Falls is another great option, less than two hours from Jackson Hole makes it a no brainier. A short drive from the falls is some of the country’s most stunning mountain terrain and some truly amazing outdoor fun, from hiking and camping to fishing in the snake river and snowmobiling in Island Park.

Little known fact, I always dreamed of moving to Leadville, Colorado. Here is the proof, pictures from one of the houses I had a local real estate agent show me that was out by the cemetery on the way to the most beautiful lake in the state, Turquoise Lake…

Sun Valley Winter Videographer

Ahh, nothing says skiing in Sun Valley better than Warren Miller…

 

Driggs Idaho Engagement

Adventure comes in many forms. I often describe adventures as activities that get my heart racing, and they almost always take place outdoors. Whether that means doing something that involves a little risk or that is just plain exciting, I feel that going on adventures keeps me young at heart. I believe that couples who adventure together stay together, which is why I love working with adventurous couples. Often on my blog I use the term adventurous to describe things in the mountains, like a precarious hike to a mountain top or a snowshoe hike across a frozen lake, but sometimes, like today, I use it for exploring spooky abandoned locations. I don’t know why, but I have always been attracted to old buildings like this. Maybe it’s the history and character they have, or the raw natural textures they have, or maybe it’s just exploring the unknown – but when Ashley and Blake shared this secret east Idaho location with me for their adventure engagement session, I was in love. I should have known that an artist like Ashley would have some good ideas up her sleeve. By the way, if you don’t know Ashley and her rad art you must like her Facebook page and check her work out at Mountain Girl Studios. I had never seen anything like it before. It is so unique and colorful and I want one of everything! She is an amazing artist who makes everything handmade in her home studio from silk paintings to stained glass antler dream catchers.

 

Mink Creek Group Site Campground Weddings

Pocatello Idaho has some great hidden gems for brides and grooms, like this off the beaten path outdoor wedding venue tucked away in the Caribou National Forest. One of my favorite things about this area of southeast Idaho is it’s rich history. The almost 1 million acres of land and 20+ developed campgrounds in this area of national forest is actually named after Cariboo Jack. If you haven’t read up on him, you should, his story is amazing, well was amazing until he got mauled to death by a grizzly. Anyways… back to my Idaho outdoor wedding photography blog.

This large outdoor wedding site located just outside of Pocatello is an empty slate for your chic boho or country wedding or even a family reunion. Once you know it’s there it is not hard to find, but it takes some planning to figure out how to work the space (especially parking). It can supposedly accommodate up to about 150 people (if they carpool). It has a large flat grassy area, a big pavilion with picnic tables and 2 restrooms. It is a great spot if you want to have an outdoor wedding and reception. It appears that there is water is available on site. However, I don’t believe there is any cell phone reception there. The Mink Creek group site can be reserved for your wedding ceremony and reception by visiting the forest service headquarters located on the south side of town at 4350 Cliffs Dr or by calling them during business office hours at (208) 236-7500.

Professional Women in Pocatello Idaho

Moving to a new town can be hard, but luckily someone told me about this great photographer in town, Jamie Findlay (of Jamie Findlay Photography), that I should connect with. Well I did, and she recommended that I join the brand new group of Professional Women in Pocatello Idaho, called the Women’s Networking Group – Southeast Idaho.  It is run by Brianne Sloan (of Bri Sloan Photography) and is growing fast.  I can’t wait to see what is next with the group!

Jamie of Jamie Findlay Photography in Pocatello at the Southeast Idaho Women’s Networking Group May meeting.