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7 Things We've Learned After 10 Years in Phoenix

7 Things We've Learned After 10 Years in Phoenix

This past Memorial Day weekend marked a pretty big milestone for us and we couldn't let it pass by without busting out a fantabulous blog post to mark the occasion right! As you are probably aware from the title (suspenseful, we know), May 31st marked our 10th anniversary of moving to the Valley of the Sun! Truth be told, it took us about 5 years to accept the fact that Phoenix was our new home (and if we're being honest, it took Megan more like 8 years). As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, we grew up in sunny San Diego. We spent our summer days at the beach, eating our fair share of California burritos, and spending our summer nights by the bonfire. To say we missed it would be a bit of an understatement. But God has a funny way of changing us as time makes its steady march into eternity, and after enough years here in Phoenix, we started to appreciate it a bit more. To be sure, there are still things we desperately miss about good ol' SD, but after 10 years, we are here to say officially that Phoenix is our home and we love it! 

10 years in one place is a good amount of time to learn a few things and get a good lay of the land, so to speak. Like a lot of people we meet in The Valley, we didn't grow up here, but after a decade, we'd like to think we've learned a thing or two about what makes Phoenix great. So without much further ado, we've compiled a list of quirks, nuances, and awesomeness you can only find in Phoenix!

1. Ok, ok. Let's get the big one out of the way first. It gets HOT here. Legit, fry an egg on the sidewalk, HOT. The first couple summers here, we have to admit, were pretty brutal. But c'mon people, its all about perspective! After 10 years we've just learned to make friends with someone who has a pool, or we just hibernate for about 4 months. If you really think about it, it's not that different from winter in a cold climate...except totally opposite. Instead of getting frostbite from going outside for too long, in Phoenix your face melts if you go outside for too long. "It's a dry heat," is not a big consolation either. As Megan used to say, "So is my oven, but I don't want to live in it." All that to say, the heat is bearable if you know how to handle it. Stay indoors. Drink lots of water. And find a pool. After the unbearable heat of the summer, the other 7-8 months of the year are really amazing!

2. Speaking of heat, trust us when we tell you to avoid using the "cold water" tap during the summer. When your water pipes are baking in the desert sun all day, that "cold water" coming out of the faucet tends to be on the toasty side. Here's a 10 year tip for you: during the summer turn down your hot water heater and use the "hot tap" for cold water! Seriously, we aren't making this up. (It also helps you save on those extra fun, summertime electricity bills!)

3. Monsoons are pretty awesome. Every year, right about the time the summer starts to get a little too hot, we are treated to some truly epic summer monsoon storms. They build throughout the day as the hot air from the desert rises and usually the storms unleash all their cooling rain and desert winds late in the afternoon or evening. They usually don't last long, but they are a great reprieve from the heat at just the right time! (Insider tip: they also provide some truly epic photography opportunities! Lightning and weather photos are some of James' favorites kinds to capture.)

4. We have other seasons. We know our first three points were about summer but there are three other pretty amazing seasons that make living here in The Valley pretty awesome. When everyone else is starting to bundle up for the winter, we all come out of hibernation and spend the whole winter having barbecues and wearing flip flops. Ok, maybe not the WHOLE Winter. It does get cold here for a few weeks in December and January, which is just about long enough for us to get our sweaters and fleece PJs out before we get sick of them and want our flip flops back. Spring provides some truly gorgeous desert blooms and a quick trip up to Sedona or Flagstaff in the Fall provides some truly breathtaking fall foliage if that's your thing (did we mention Phoenix is a pretty great place for photography?).

5. It's pretty easy to find your way around. We have to admit, for like the first 5 years we couldn't figure out why whenever someone was giving us directions they would say something like, "It's on the corner of Camelback and 44th street." For the first half-decade we usually responded with, "Ummmm....ok....can you just give us DIRECTIONS?" Once we figured out that Phoenix is a HUGE GRID, we felt like we could finally speak the language and sound like proper locals. So here it is in a nutshell...North/South roads are numbered. East/West roads have names. Streets are EAST of Central and Avenues are WEST of Central. The farther away from Central you are, the higher the number. Freeways are a different story for another time, but for the record, we will always refer to them as "The 101" or "The 17." Sorry folks, but that's just a little bit of California we aren't quite ready to give up yet.

6. There is so much to see and do. If you're willing to drive a bit and explore our state, Arizona is hard to beat for awe-inspiring scenery. The Grand Canyon? Check. Sedona's Red Rocks? Check? Horseshoe Bend? Check. Also let's not forget Vermillion Cliffs, Havasu Falls, Lower Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, The Hoover Dam, Tombstone, Saguaro Cactus, and way too many other natural wonders to name here. All that to say, if you want to road trip or enjoy vast open spaces, we have plenty of places for you to go out here!

7. Finally, and most importantly, places are really about people. We've had the honor of meeting some truly amazing people and friends in our ten years here and are so thankful that God brought us to Phoenix to meet them. We have watched our family grow from a newlywed couple to a family of five during the last decade. All three of our kids call Arizona home and are natives to this beautiful state. We hope to spend many more decades here watching our kids grow into productive, creative, well-rounded, humble adults and we are glad God chose this place to grow our family. San Diego will always hold a special place in our hearts, but Phoenix is the only place we call home.

Fri-yay! Weekly Recap #6!

Fri-yay! Weekly Recap #6!

It's Friday! And we're back to share another recap with all of you lovely people! We've been getting some good feedback from our Friday Recaps so as long as you're reading, we'll keep writing! So without further ado... 

James had a birthday (or two...more on that in a bit) this week! It was the 12th anniversary of his 22nd birthday! Woot! Seriously though, he's 34 now....where does the time go?!?!? It feels like just yesterday we were 22 and tying the knot back in San Diego! We had a great night on Saturday night, spending some time with friends at Chelsea's Kitchen in celebration. Their sangria is to die for and they have some awesome patio seating right by a canal! If you're looking for a bit of romance, you have to check it out!

James had his actual birthday on Monday and then his second birthday on Tuesday! Second birthday?? Say what?! See here's the thing...for the first 12 years we've been married, James has HATED birthdays. Doesn't ever want to do anything. Doesn't really ask for anything. You see, he just kind of pretends they don't exist. Which is funny because he keeps getting older and keeps wondering why all the hair on his head is migrating to his face...but that's another story for another time. So every year we do this funny little charade where he says he doesn't want anything and then I (Megan) go behind his back and get him something and try and make his birthday a little bit special. Well you see, this year, for a variety of different reasons, I decided to take him at his word. We had a great time Saturday night with friends, as you already know, so I figured, "What the heck, dinner with friends is enough of a celebration! He always says he doesn't want anything anyway, so we'll do dinner and then I can check that little item off my mental checklist. James' birthday...CHECK."

Here's where things started to go south. It seems that for 12 years he's kind of been lying...errrr...I mean "pretending" that he HATES birthdays. APPARENTLY, he really does like to have cake and presents and cards on his birthday. Coulda fooled me!! So Monday comes and goes, and he wakes up on Tuesday all mopey and doing his best Eeyore impression. I think the exact words out of his mouth were, "That was the worst birthday ever." If you can't tell he's not usually the type to "soften the blow." As Eeyore would say, "Oh brother..." 

So what did I do? Did I sit back and say, "Well there's always next year!" or "Suck it up, and quit yer whining!"? Heck no!!! We tried again on Tuesday because I am a full grown adult and, doggone it, no one can stop me (not to mention, I kinda love the guy)! So the kids and I piled into the minivan, drove over to the local Target and picked up all the birthday fixings. Presents...CHECK. Candles...CHECK. Wrapping paper...CHECK. Bathroom humor birthday card...YOU BETCHA! And when his 34 year old self walked in the door on Tuesday, we all pretended he was still 33 and sang him Happy Birthday (again)! He sure was surprised, and although he didn't quite turn into Tigger after his second birthday, he wasn't quite as Eeyore-ish after that either. In all seriousness, we love our 34 year old husband, daddy, photography partner, blog writer, social media guru, and iPhone repairman. If we could celebrate him every day of the year, we would because we love him and all he does and all the sacrifices he makes to always be there for us! He's also assured us that going forward, he will be very forthcoming with his birthday wishes. Teaching James that birthdays DO exist...CHECK!

It's starting to get hot here in Phoenix which means two things. First, it's time for swimming. Second, I hate laundry. Well that second point really has nothing to do with it being hot, but I just figured I'd throw it in because, seriously....I HATE IT...and you deserve to know. I share this, not because I want my dirty laundry (see what I did there?) plastered all over the internet, but to just give a little encouragement to all the other mothers out there. WARNING! REAL LIFE AHEAD: Sometimes, our laundry doesn't get done, and sometimes I start to think I'm failing as a wife and mother. What I'm learning, however, is that my worth as a wife and mother should not be equated with how big or small my pile of laundry is. We are worth so much more than the tasks we do on a daily basis. We also can't trust everything we see on the internet, Facebook, and Instagram. I wanted to post this picture of Mt. Laundry to prove that, despite what we usually see online, there are real people, with real struggles, and real lives behind all those perfect images we normally see on social media. We just wanted you to know, that behind the blog, we are real people too. So next time the laundry monster is about to destroy your joy, just remember we're right there with you. If you need us to come over and throw you a pretend-birthday party to cheer you up, we can do that! After this week, we've had plenty of practice!

Finally, in case you missed it, we are heading to San Diego this summer for some summer fun on the beach! We'd love to do your pictures while we're there! If you're interested, shoot us an email via our contact page or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram. We have limited spots available, so make sure you reserve your spot before it's too late! We can't wait to catch up with old friends and hopefully make some new ones while we're there!

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

The Value of Printing Your Photos

The Value of Printing Your Photos

Back in my earlier days, I used to work at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. As someone who loves the feel (and smell!) of a good book, it was a great place to work. But the reason I bring this up is not to get all nostalgic on you or bring up my prior obsessions with the various smells of different types of book paper. We'll save that riveting blog post for another day. Instead, I bring this up because Barnes and Noble, or BN as we used to call it, taught me something.

One of the first lessons learned at BN as part of their customer service policy is to "Always put the book in the customer's hand." They taught us on day one that they wanted us to PHYSICALLY remove the book from the shelf and PHYSICALLY place that book into the hand of the customer. Seems silly, right? But bear with me a minute. With the advent of online shopping we can look at pictures, read online reviews, or product descriptions all day long. But how many times have you browsed Amazon and left feeling wanting? How many times have you just wished you could see the product in person before you bought whatever it was you were looking at? What BN learned long ago is that when a customer makes a real physical connection with a product, they are more likely to buy that product. Why? Because we are sensory creatures. When more than one or two of our senses are engaged with a product, we are more likely to remember that product, and therefore more likely to buy it.

When we engage something with more than just our sight we remember it better. This is why so many people prefer not to read books on their phones, tablets, or e-readers. When we engage with a physical book we can retain more of the content we read.  There have been loads of articles written (here and here, just to name a couple) about why physical books are better than their digital versions.

By now you're probably saying, "But wait a minute! Isn't this is a photographer's blog?! What's with all the book talk?" Hopefully, you can see where I'm going with this. These same principles of involving more of your senses apply equally to photography! We always provide digital downloads of our images to our clients. This will never change because we live in a digital age. Having those files digitally makes it incredibly easy to share them on social media, email them to a relative, or store them in a safe place without taking up a huge spot on a shelf. Making our clients happy is our FIRST priority, and without digital downloads, most clients in our digitally driven culture will leave feeling less than satisfied.

We love when our clients show off those images on social media. That's part of the reason we LOVE giving them their digital images! But, once you post all those images to your Facebook or Instagram page, they slowly get lost in the steady stream of your newsfeed, rarely to be seen again. Maybe you'll set one of those images as your microscopically small profile picture and look at it everyday. But the rest of those images are shoved into an album somewhere in a back closet of the vast cyber-universe known as the internet. We know they're there if we ever need to pull them out for some special occasion, but if we're honest, we usually don't blow the digital dust off of them and pull them out of that digital closet very often.

Which brings me to the main point I want to make today...I know, I know...took me long enough, right?! So here it is: PLEASE PRINT YOUR PICTURES!!!!!! (We even said please!) It is SO important because those printed pictures fill physical frames, or physical photo books, or are printed on a physical canvas. You can physically pick those pictures up. Your friends, family, and guests can actually SEE, TOUCH, or even SMELL (hey we never said we didn't have weird friends) those pictures when they come over for dinner or coffee or play dates.

If you ever come over to our house, you will see that we have printed photos in almost every room. We can't count how many conversations have been started because someone saw a picture on our wall. We lost track of how many times the kids randomly grabbed one of the annual photobooks we have printed up using our Instagram pictures and flipped through it for an hour while they remembered the story that went with each of those pictures. We remember how every time we have moved, our new house doesn't quite feel like a home until we get the pictures up.

So we'll say it again: PLEASE PRINT YOUR PICTURES. We LOVE working WITH our clients to provide them with high quality prints, canvas, or photobooks that will last them a lifetime, not because we are trying to sell them something extra or because we want to make a few extra dollars. We do it because we want all of our clients to live in homes filled with beautiful, lasting images that create a sense that they are "home." We want their homes filled with photographic stories they can tell when they have guests over for wine and cookies. We want the people who live in those homes to be able to sit down on a lazy Sunday afternoon and flip through their photobooks and remember the laughter, the joy, and the tears that made them who they are.


Did you know we can not only help you print  your photos, but we can also provide personalized consultations to help you use those photos to create meaningful photographic stories in your home? Meeting our clients in their homes, in the spaces they cherish most, is something we hold close to our hearts. We love seeing houses come to life to become warm and inviting homes and we'd love to help you. So print your pictures and put them up! If it feels overwhelming, don't let it! We're here for you and would love to help!