Best of 2017 | Kandice Breinholt
2017 has come to a close. My second year as a wedding photographer. The year that somehow seemingly dragged on forever and went by in a flash. A year of unimaginable heartbreak and frustration made bearable, beautiful, and meaningful by the ones I love and the love stories I was fortunate enough to document.
For me, this year was all about 1) taking on LESS
I took on less for two huge reasons: to spend more quality time with my family and friends and to pour more of myself into my couples and into my business.
and 2) embracing my niche
I started only taking on small weddings of 30 or less. In so doing, the face of my business changed quite a bit. Each inquiry is more meaningful and I get to work with couples who feel as I do about small, adventurous weddings. There’s an immediate connection there and that’s something I’ve truly valued this past year.
As I ventured into destination elopements this year, I started marking locations off my ultimate bucket list: Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Toketee Falls. I visited 5 national parks (including Crater Lake NP, Zion NP, Canyonlands NP, Olympic NP, and Capitol Reef NP) crossing each one off my photography bucket list along with shooting some of my favorite couple shots at Bonneville Salt Flats, shooting a wedding in Moab, shooting bridals at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes, and shooting an elopement in Antelope Island State Park. As a mom with two young kids and the inability to travel as much as I'd like (turning so many of you down if the timing wasn't exactly right), I cherish each and every opportunity that I have to explore some of the different awe-inspiring corners of this planet. I feel so thankful to those who have entrusted me to document their love and their weddings in such incredible places.
Now onto the superlatives, as awarded by me. . . (but first, here's something for your ears. Press play and scroll on through).
It was such an honor to witness and document the sunrise ceremony of Jacob and Amanda at Horseshoe Bend. Not only was it a beautiful location but they paid homage to the sacred land by inviting Supai Village Medicine Man, Uqualla (of the Havasupi Tribe), to officiate. Uqualla’s attention to detail as he thoughtfully moved through each sacred tradition was captivating. It was such a unique and special experience for all of us.
Travis and Jacquelyn wed alone in the forest of Washington with only the officiant, me, Sean (assistant / husband extraordinaire), and the videographer. We were so lucky to be the ones they chose to spend their day with. No one back in their home of California knew they were getting married which made it all the more special. It was a truly beautiful day. Because of how intimate, care-free, and nature-inspired it was, it was my favorite wedding of the year.
Two beautiful people having a bunch of fun in an Airstream trailer. Nothing more ever needs to be said. These are, by far, the most shared images of the year.
These images were a personal breakthrough for me. I lost my way toward the end of 2016 and fell out of love with photography. For a while after, I felt I was no longer producing work that felt like mine. That is, until I had a heart-to-heart with my guy about creating art that I like and art that comes naturally. To me, these images have it all. The wide-sweeping salt flats that go on for miles and miles. The clean, simple scenes and colors. The minimalism. The adventurous, trusting couple (who ran through and rolled around in terribly painful muddy salt for me). I experimented with the concept of connecting without touching. These are some of my favorites of 2017.
This session at Toketee Falls with Tawni and Jeremy was definitely the most adventurous of the year. We traveled to Oregon for just one night (us from Utah, them from Nevada). After we flew in, we drove for hours before we arrived at the trail head. We met up in a forest in the pouring rain without phone service. We hiked to the waterfall lookout spot, climbed through a hole in the fence surrounding the viewing deck and made our descent down a muddy, rocky hillside with only a rope to hold onto. We shot on huge, slippery boulders and fallen tree stumps in the water with a raging waterfall behind us. We climbed back up the muddy, rocky hillside and climbed back through the hole in the fence before hiking back in the dark forest. We took an even longer way back to our AirBNB and slept for a few hours before waking at 3 to head home. It's super surreal to fly into another state to go on a hike then fly home. This job is nuts and I freaking love it.
This one's a two-parter, naturally. We woke before the sun came up for a sunrise session with Tascha and Paul in Capitol Reef National Park. Afterward, we shot their 10 hour wedding. We wouldn't have wanted to share this entire day with anyone else. It was such a special wedding in one of the coolest/prettiest places. Mega bonus: our friends were in attendance and we were able to really party with everyone at the end of the night.
I went to so many incredible places this year and each and every one was fully inspiring to me but, this place... this place was special on a completely different level. It's a secret canyon free from the crowds of tourists you find in the other more popular Antelope canyons. So secret, we were among the only people within the canyon. We piled in an SUV with a guide who drove us quite a few miles down into the canyon. We walked down a massive hill of loose sand to enter the canyon and had to take a buggy back up the sand afterward. Our guide led us through the canyon, sharing stories of its history, playing his flute with other guides, and helping us make light rays when there weren't any naturally occurring. It was a deeply special experience - a bucket list opportunity. Thank you again, Amanda and Jacob, for inviting me to capture your love within these canyon walls.
I didn't do a ton of personal work this year, unfortunately, but of the shoots I did put together, this was my favorite. It also just so happens to be my favorite bouquet of the year (really, this bouquet deserves its own category). I was able to work with my favorite florist for the first time (The Potted Pansy - thank you again Mandy!) and a favorite artist here in Utah, Haley Nord (and her guy, Truck). We were up many hours before the sun and, in the dark with flashlights barely lighting the path, we hiked up the mountain to an incredible hot springs. My hope with these images was to share that couples can and should do whatever they want on their wedding day (to hell with tradition!). You don't have to do it like anyone else or like you've ever seen it done before. You could tell no one and keep it intimate, wear black, hike to a secluded and special spot, share your vows in a foot of water with a waterfall behind you, and spend most of your time soaking in water together afterward. I don't know, that just sounds perfect to me. I definitely hope to capture more elopements like this.
This one's a big one! There are so many images I want to share from Natalie and Colby's amazing wedding in Moab. I could have awarded it far more things but, truthfully, this wedding stands out to me as, really, just a damn good time. And that's due significantly to the other vendors who were working it with me. First off, my best friend, Cec Harvard, second shot it with me. Second, I met a true soulmate of mine - the videographer, Jami (of Jami Davis Films), whom I immediately fell in love with. Third, it was expertly planned and put together by Taylor (of Simply Elegant). Fourth, the cake and dessert were incredible (Wild Rose Cakes). Fifth, the freaking floral details (by A Florae) were so unique and gorgeous, I was drooling over them half the time. Sixth, every single detail was perfect and stunning and I felt lucky to be among such talented people. And, OF COURSE, Natalie, Colby, and their families were so kind and special. I LOVED this wedding.
My aim for 2018? Take on even less and become even more niche. I want to pour my heart and soul into every wedding and every couple and I wholeheartedly believe that, to do so, I need to ensure my focus is, first, on my family/friend relationships and, as a very close second, on my couples and their experience. Of course, I also want to travel to new places and push myself creatively. I’m so excited for what 2018 has in store!
To my incredible couples from 2017, it’s been the ultimate pleasure and honor documenting your love stories!