100 weddings

This month I'm celebrating shooting my 100th wedding.

It's such a small and such a large number at the same time. At ~10 hours per wedding, I'm about 1000 hours into weddings so far. Although I shoot a lot outside of weddings, it will still be years before I hit my 10,000 hours. But I'm working on it and enjoying the process.

100 weddings have given me great insight into the celebration we call a wedding. I've witnessed the tears and joy of so many couples, families, and friends. Although each couple is unique, the way we celebrate them is often quite similar. I'm enthralled by weddings more now than the day I started (and I loved them then!)

This year I've had the fortune of shooting in two hemispheres, three countries, and seven states. Five of those trips were as a second photographer. It's been so refreshing to be able to extend my creativity by working alongside so many talented photographers and being able to just “do my thing” without fear of needing to capture anything specifically. Thanks to Kyle, Jen, Matt, Riitta, and Ruthie for having me join them this year.

Hitting 100 weddings would not have been possible if it wasn't for some people who I'd like to thank publicly:

My wife, Jessica: her support of my dreams have given me the ability to spread my wings into flight in ways I couldn't have done on my own. I cherish her and her love. She's there to correct me, ground me, and prod me forward.

My clients: from those that put their trust in me when I had little to no portfolio to those that continue to put their trust in me on shoots even this past week; thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I want to serve you the best I can and your appreciation makes my job so much sweeter.

My supporters: To everyone who's ever said a kind word, shared my work, or passed my name on to people looking for a wedding photographer – thank you.

My colleagues: Although I work for myself, I'm not alone. The groups that I'm part of (both locally and internationally) have brought me great joy, heaps of encouragement, and helped me to improve as a photographer, businessman, and person. They have shown me so much love (even to the point that they've created the #stenzmeme recently – a play on the Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” meme). Working alone in an office is made so much better by knowing these people.

There are other people I'm sure I'm missing; Rich+Andrea, neighbors of mine who encouraged me to try out weddings; my mom – because moms are always the best at encouraging and promoting; Jessica's boss and his wife (John+Sherri), who shared with us the ups and downs and entrepreneurship; and so many more people that have helped to form me and guide me through this process.

100 weddings and counting. I'm overwhelmed with gratefulness and looking forward to the next 100.

the question that changed my life

11 years ago today I stood on a little grassy mound in Nelson Dewey State Park, overlooking the Mississippi River. Next to me, a beautiful woman I cared for very deeply was unaware of what was about to happen.

I asked a question that had the potential to change our lives forever and she said “yes!” – tears rolling down our cheeks.

Happy 11th Anniversary my dearest Jessica. Thank you for saying yes and loving me so completely and so wonderfully all of these years!

Marriage is work. It's the most rewarding sort of work. It takes a lot of time, many apologies and offers of forgiveness, heaps of humility, and can grow you in untold ways. We basically ask each other each day, ‘will you love me+care for me while I walk this planet' – and each day we have to choose to say yes. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

We visited our engagement spot twice since 2002. Once in 2003 – way before my photography skills had developed… (*drums+cymbal crash*) In fact, at the time it was Jessica who owned the SLR and I just had a little Sony point and shoot. Make sure to check out the amazing tilt action going on below – that's some high quality art I was creating right there!

The other was in 2010 and I took a panoramic shot of the Mississippi River from our little engagement mound that you'll see below my early masterpieces.

The last of the photos then are of the gift I gave Jessica this morning. A shout out to Little Okins (https://www.etsy.com/shop/littleokins) for a really fun little surprise (for many different occasions!) Anyone looking to ask a question (engagements, asking someone to be in your bridal party, etc.) might enjoy these.

Our Engagement at Nelson Dewey State Park on the Mississippi
Little Okins Anniversary Gift