ANDREW + AMANDA // EDEN STRADER WORKSHOP, SLC

Guys, I spent last weekend in Salt Lake City learning from one of my favorite 'togs, Eden Strader. Before I tell you why the workshop was awesome, I feel compelled to tell you why Eden's work is awesome: I found her a year or so ago on IG and immediately noticed her work because it stood out so much in a sea of bridal and wedding photography that, while beautiful, looked very similar. Eden's work stood out to me because she embraced that harsh, midday light that so many avoid and just rocked it. Looking at her feed as a whole, I also loved the fact that, while her work is consistent in her ability and certain elements that she incorporates in all of her work (color!), there was so much variety in where and what she was shooting! It didn't feel like I was looking at a single wedding album: there were high fashion bridal shots in studios with bright backgrounds, super creative double exposures, some carefree outdoor portraits, and so much more. It made me feel infinitely better about the fact that my IG doesn't look like it's made up of a single wedding or occasion (nothing wrong with this approach - I actually HATED that I couldn't master it!). So! Her work spoke to me because it was different from everything else I was seeing, but still so beautifully done.

When Eden announced that she was hosting a workshop, I jumped at the opportunity to learn from her. And guys, this totally pushed me creatively. I've spent some time this winter expanding my studio work (because who wants to stay outside when its -127 degrees and blizzarding - not me), but I definitely wanted the chance to learn from someone who does it so. Damn. Well. As part of the workshop, Eden set up two different shoots: one couples' portrait session (this post) and one editorial bridal session (I'll share this one shortly). If you know me at all, you know I LOVE candid, natural interaction. True posing is way outside my wheelhouse and I didn't think I wanted any part of it, but I really loved the challenge of drawing out certain emotions with nothing to rely on, other than the couple themselves. No background, no space to tell them to run off into the sunset. Just two (okay, admittedly beautiful) people and a blank wall behind them. And I really love the way the shots turned out.

So friends, editorial/studio work may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I hope that you'll consider it when planning your engagement photos or simply for your next portrait session. It's completely different from so much of what's out there right now and I think it can produce some really beautiful results. Scroll on for some highlights!

Styling: Eden Strader // HMUA: Alexa Kait // Models: Andrew + Amanda Gaytan // Dress: Asos

CONNIE + SAM // HAMILTON, MONTANA MATERNITY SESSION

Social media is such a funny thing: it can be an all-consuming beast that makes you compare every element of your life to strangers' highlights, but at the same time, it has been such a blessing for this introvert. It's given me a way to connect with strangers who become friends, and that's exactly what happened with Connie. We found each other on Instagram, made a pizza + beer date, and instantly clicked. She's a makeup artist in the Bitterroot, so initially, I was glad to have her as a resource for my clients, but I love taking her photos even more.

Connie + Sam are about to have their last baby: sweet little Jax. It's her story to tell, so I won't share all the details here, but suffice it to say he's been a long time coming and the ride has had some bumps. Given all the bumps, we ended up moving their maternity session up two weeks and it was the most perfect day! The snow had melted in town, but Lake Como was still beautifully blanketed. We had a perfectly clear, bluebird-sky day and these two are so adorable together. Sam takes such good care of Connie and their boys and she is so obviously still head over heels for him (like I said before: spend a few minutes around them and she'll almost certainly crack a PG-13 joke about their relationship).

Montana's Bitterroot Valley never disappoints, but I think Connie + Sam stole the show. Scroll on through for a few highlights!