2017 Behind The Scenes

BTS images are some of my very favorite – there’s something so rewarding about seeing myself in action do this thing that I love. They also never fail to take me right back to the moment – and all the feelings come rushing back too – the excitement, the nerves, the anticipation – I just love it.

The system I use to compile my BTS images each year is this: I try to send iPhone BTS images to a folder on Google Drive after each event. Then, when culling I pull BTS images from my cards & put them into one folder on my desktop & then at the end of the year I do one big edit, one big Blog Stomp & voila – Behind The Scenes blog post.

However, it seems like I stopped doing that around April of this year. As life gets better (& busier) certain things fall by the wayside – one of those things is keeping up with my iPhone camera roll (I’m usually OCD about going back & clearing out images I don’t need, duplicates etc & doing my fav personal images & BTS) – while I think overall that’s a good thing because it means I’m living life rather than being in my phone, it makes posts like these quite a bit more challenging.

All that being said – I’m sure there are some images I missed & this post is a bit later than I would have liked, but oh well! I give you 2017’s Behind The Scenes:

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FAQ | Why Do You Shoot Non-Wedding Sessions?

Family sessions, travels, fall minis, proposals, businesses, baby showers & even Crossfit competitions – I shoot all of these things. I have been asked why I do so & how it benefits my business. There are a couple of different reasons I continue to shoot more than just weddings & I thought I’d share that today.

Long Term Clients

The same love of telling stories that applies to weddings also applies to sessions outside of a wedding day. Its a privilege to be asked to document a family as they grow, change & move through this life. One of the distinct joys of this business is meeting people who become clients & then friends. I love getting to see them over the years & in the big moments of their lives. While a wedding day is certainly one of those, it isn’t the only one. I genuinely enjoy developing a repertoire with families & businesses to more fully tell their stories.


I find that shooting non-wedding things, sometimes events way outside the ‘pretty’ (i.e. sweaty Crossfit competitions) sparks my creativity in new ways. When I’m working in less than ideal conditions; cramped spaces, hard lighting & fast-moving subjects I’m pushed to think differently. But I’ve found the decreased pressure in these moments allows me to incorporate new techniques & test the results. Those new techniques can then be put into practice when I find myself in difficult conditions on a wedding day without it being an experiment. Creativity can be hard to coax when under pressure (at least for me) so I find & think of new things on non-wedding shoots that I then store away to pull out in those ‘oh-crud-where-did-my-creativity-run-off-to’ moments.


The most obvious reason is the monetary implications. Some photographers are exclusively wedding photographers & I applaud them for that. Given that I still have a full-time ‘day’ job I don’t rely on my business as my sole income & therefore I have the luxury of being far more picky when it comes to clients & dates. However, the downside to having a full time job is I don’t get Monday’s off after a wedding weekend & so sometimes I need to take fewer weddings to balance my life/work/play ratios. Booking events & portrait sessions allows for a little extra income on the weekday afternoons & weekends without sacrificing an entire day or weekend for a wedding. When coupled with all of these other reasons you can see why its a benefit for myself & my clients that I take on non-wedding events.

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4 Qualities You Really Need in a Wedding Photographer

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming (can I get an amen?)! There are so many decisions to be made no matter the size of your wedding. Choosing vendors is a critical piece of the wedding puzzle & yet if you’ve never been married before & aren’t part of the wedding industry – how do you even know what to look for?

While I’m not an expert on every area of wedding planning, being in the industry for 9 years (whoa) has lent me some experience & in at least one area I have a good handle on the characteristics that you will be thankful for. When choosing a photographer obviously a good portfolio, a style that you love & a personality you click with are the first criteria. But what about beyond that? Are there other characteristics that can be serious assets or deficits to you the couple on your day? I believe so!

Today I’m talking about 4 characteristics beyond the photography that I believe make a huge difference in any couple’s day.

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People Person

A wedding is all about people. Yes there are details & beautiful venues & gorgeous flowers but the reason for all of that is the people. The couple, their families, their friends, their loved ones – that’s the basis for the entire wedding & ultimately the most important part. Your photographer should not only *get* that, but also enjoy that part of it. Who cares if someone can style & shoot the most beautiful details but only tolerates your precious grandmother? While you won’t find anyone who loves beautiful details more than me I know they are secondary to what really matters – the people. Even though I am borderline introvert I love people on a wedding day – I love seeing & capturing the emotion, the relationships, seeing the generations of decisions & commitments that brought this moment about.

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Problem Solver

I don’t know if anyone has told you this yet but every wedding day has its problems. This isn’t a reflection of lack of planning or lack of care – its just the nature of the beast. When there are that many moving parts & so many variables outside one’s control (weather, traffic, emergencies) things are bound to go awry. It is for this reason I believe hiring a photographer (& really any vendor) who can think on their feet, isn’t easily rattled & is confident enough to think outside the box when issues arise. Whether its finding a new place for portraits due to the weather, rearranging the timeline on the fly because someone is stuck in traffic or having ideas for a last minute change of plans in the event of some other emergency – its important to have vendors who will be there with you – lending their knowledge & expertise, no matter the situation.

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Creative Thinker

While there are similarities in all weddings, each one is also unique & should be treated as such. I don’t think any couple wants a photographer who sees their wedding as just another in a long line of copy-cat events or approaches their day that way. I believe the best photographers are constantly learning. They are challenging themselves, finding new techniques, new angles, new perspectives & using those new things with each new wedding. Creativity can be a finicky thing – some days the juices are flowing & others they aren’t & having a photographer who pushes themselves to keep searching & who has a ‘Mary Poppins bag’ if you will, of ideas & go-to’s is critical for images that showcase your day & tell your story. This creative thinker facet also comes into play in the event of issues. As I previously mentioned issues do arise & sometimes the standard solution just won’t work for whatever reason. It is then that someone who can think outside the box & find a creative solution can win the day for their couple.

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Calming Influence

Wedding days come with high emotions. This is certainly true of the couple but is also true of those who love the couple – parents, grand parents, friends, siblings – they all have emotions tied to this day & its events. All of those emotions converging in small spaces can be overwhelming at times. Its important that your vendors bring a calming influence with them. After all, they are the experts – they’ve walked this road with many families & can see the bigger picture when the emotions rise. I can’t tell you the number of brides who have thanked me for remaining calm & therefore helping them remain calm in the face of whatever the day brought. Sometimes just being able to remind someone of the ultimate purpose of the day & say it with a smile is enough to turn the tide & that’s an important trait for your vendors to have.

Monroe Imagery provides vibrant, authentic & timeless images for weddings, elopements & families.
Based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee but thrilled to travel! 
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Azalea H. | Newborn

Meet Azalea. The newest member of the Veals family & such a beauty! I’ve had the privilege of capturing so many of this family’s milestones & if her big brother is any indication – this little girl is sure to be adored & adorable.

She arrived just in time for Christmas too! Enjoy a few of my favorites from my recent time with them.

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Van Life in Iceland | Tips & Tricks

I cannot *believe* its been 9 months to the day since we left for Iceland. It seems like just yesterday & also a lifetime ago. Those 10 days will forever be some of my favorite of my life. This post seems late but really its just a recollection of some of the things we learned while in Iceland – for those that might be planning a trip. For those toying with the idea – trust me when I say – GO! You will not regret it! And now – onto the nuggets we learned!

Check every plug & button before leaving w/your rental. We didn’t do this & it cost us time on our first day. So press every button & plug something into every outlet before leaving. Also, insure you have the appropriate plugs for whatever your rental is equipped with. There was some confusion on what our van had which lead to an additional rental. Not the end of the world but had we known we would have been prepared.

Bring an extra towel – Iceland’s weather is notoriously inconsistent – this often means precipitation. Precipitation means mud. Climbing in & out of your living space with muddy shoes means an inevitable mess. You don’t want to use your body towel for the floor so bring an extra!

Gullfoss is worth the drive.

Bring bungee cords & miscellaneous rope/string & plastic bags – Iceland believes in their speed bumps (more like humps) & isn’t so big on signage, which can mean lots of last minute slamming on the brakes. Also if you have lots of gear you’ll need places to attach/hang things you use regularly. Also – silica gel packets (those little packs of stuff that say ‘do not eat’ that you get in nearly every shipping box) these will help with the inevitable wetness. Throw them in your shoes at night, in camera bags etc to help soak up the moisture.

Watch out for mud holes – taking the road less traveled is a great part of an Icelandic adventure – however the mud holes are no joke & may very well test your van’s clearance. Better to drive where you can see & save yourself the heart attack.

Have a plan – but leave room for meandering. The unexpected turns were some of our very favorite sights & moments.

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Check for facilities & hours. This is especially important in the winter. Businesses have strange operating days & hours in Iceland. More than once we headed for a bath house or other facility based on what the website said only to arrive & find it closed, despite the posted hours.

N1 gas stations are readily available (for Iceland) and are usually well equipped – groceries, small electronics (think chargers & cables) and some even had cafes & small auto sections.

There’s some sort of restricted airspace near Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik that won’t allow for drone flight.

The Phallic museum is overpriced for admission but humorous. It has great souvenirs for those with that sort of taste.

Trawire mobile wifi is worth EVERY penny. Seriously!

Seljandavoss is lit up at night! I’ve never seen it during the day but I can vouch for its beauty at night.

The early bird gets to see things by themselves. This is especially true for attractions on the south western ring road (where most of the tours go) – so if you dislike crowds or just want that photo minus the masses – get there early.

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Think of the Bonus grocery stores like you would an Aldi – the basics are covered & its the most affordable, but you won’t find any specialty items.

They aren’t lying when they say that Iceland roads aren’t made for speed. Plan your travel time accordingly.

Really think about what it means to pack for living in a vehicle that isn’t yours – meaning your creature comforts aren’t going to be present & you have to think of everything you want/need being able to fit & function inside a vehicle.

Take the time to set-up your van while still in Reykjavik. This will hopefully illuminate any missing must-haves and you have a much better chance at locating those in the city.

Wind advisories are no joke! Remember if you’re in a van you’re in a relatively high-profile vehicle & the wind can come out of nowhere. Be safe!

The Glacier Lagoon is otherworldly – but be prepared that you most likely won’t be alone, even at sunrise. Also, don’t be alarmed by the popping – its just the ice.

Ice Caving is EVERYTHING its cracked up to be. Absolutely worth the time, the money & the effort. Have a sturdy tripod & sturdy shoes.

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help – after getting stuck behind a protest we arrived at our next stop later than anticipated, which meant the bathhouse in town was closed. We were desperate for a shower so we went to the nearest hotel & I (very sweetly) explained our situation to the receptionist who let us use a room to shower, for a fee of course. But, hey, when you’re desperate to get clean money seems of little consequence.

Breiddalisvik is a great little town on the eastern side. Its the perfect place to watch the Northern Lights dance. See if you can find the beached boat!

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If you want to photograph the Northern Lights – have a set of ‘go’ clothes ready & set your ISO, aperture & shutter speed ahead of time. Take a light source, manually set your focus to infinity & let it go! Trust me – if you’ve never seen them you’re going to be so torn between shooting & watching – its magical.

On the eastern side opt for 96 & 92 instead of the ring road – if you enjoy amazing, desolate drives that is. Gorgeous.

Myvatn was fun – beware the mud!

Don’t attempt to drive up to Viti & Krafla in the snow – watched too many people get stuck & attempt to turn vans around on one small, curvy road. Hike it if you want but be smarter than us & realize if there’s significant snow – there won’t be anything to see in the crater.

Believe the warnings about Grotagja – its SO. FRIGGIN. HOT. We braved it – we got in – for about 12.7 seconds – just long enough for a photo, because DANG. It was so hot we both climbed out of the lava tube & walked across the parking lot to the van in our bathing suits & weren’t freezing!

The horses are basically just big dogs. They love snacks!

Myvatn Nature Baths are the way to go! We skipped the Blue Lagoon for many reasons but Myvatn was perfect – while our hair frosted over our bodies were toasty & even in the evening its beautiful.

The drive from Akureyri is full of the most picturesque harbor towns & marinas – simply enchanting.

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Objects in Iceland are further than they appear – case in point – the ship wreck off the side of the road on the northern shore.

Pee every chance you get – even if you don’t think you need to. Once you leave the Myvatn area the bathrooms/civilization is SCARCE.

Finally – don’t try to cram so much in that you feel rushed – Iceland is such an AMAZING place – beauty around every single turn – take the time to absorb it.

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