above the mountains

SUNSET FLIGHT OVER THE NORTH CASCADES

A few months ago, I spontaneously texted Dan with the question “Do you have any interest in a helicopter flight?” and promptly received the response “Uhhhh..perhaps, wait, Catie— whats going on? He’s a tad bit afraid of heights, and never really knows what my occasional vague and sporadic texts mean. But I figured I could work with that response, and within 24 hours we had booked a flight over the North Cascades.

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I’m applying for a project that would really help to have some aerial mountain photography, so not only did this sound like a super cool opportunity, but a great way to build my portfolio. We booked the flight with Snow King Aviation for an evening at the end of March, and the whole week leading up, weather looked great. Not a cloud in the forecast. But the PNW often as different plans, and come 5pm on March 28th, a massive storm was forming right over the North Cascades. Our pilot seemed nervous, but had hope that it could clear enough for us to go out a few hours later instead. “Is that okay with you?” he asked. Little did he know that I was freaking out inside. Sunset shoots are my jam. I squealed yes, and for the next hour or so, we watched the storm move, crossing our fingers it would allow us to fly out safely. (Spoiler: it did, and the following hour was one of the coolest of my life.) Our pilot was fantastic, and knew exactly how to navigate through the storm without hitting much turbulence. The combination of colors was like nothing I’d ever seen before, and seeing some of my favorite mountains from above was truly mind blowing. Eight weeks later and my jaw is still sore from smiling.

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Moral of the story: combine, a sunset, a storm, and the flight over the North Cascades, and you have one of the most surreal ways of seeing the Pacific Northwest.

adventure engagement session | rattlesnake ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge | Engagement Hike

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Where do I even begin with these two? Vanessa and Nick hired my photograph buddy, Amy, and I to shoot their wedding on Vashon Island this summer. When we threw in some options for the engagement shoot, they both grinned at the idea of a hiking destination location (much to our delight!) We chose to do Rattlesnake Ledge on a warm May evening, and planned to arrive at the top with just enough time for sunset. Since the trailhead is only an hour away from Seattle, Rattlesnake Ledge is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest. It’s typically packed at the top, and even those who aren’t afraid of heights get a little nervous about number of selfie sticks and crowded edges. We had a fantastic time chatting on the hike up, and lucky for us, the peak was nearly empty when we arrived. The biggest challenge was remembering how to tie a bowtie! Vanessa and Nick fell naturally into each others arms from the first moment onward, and we took photos until the sun went down. This pair is truly something else. Their sense of humor and level of comfort and respect towards one another left me feeling so inspired. I can’t wait photograph them again in August!

Arizona in the Spring

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Two of my best friends from college and I took a weekend trip to Arizona last month- and we had an absolute blast! We spent every waking hour outside, trying to make up for all the sun we had been missing in seattle. If we weren’t swimming or hiking, and failing at putt putt, we were hanging around and being total goofballs together. My abs hurt from laughing all weekend, and I’m glad we gave justice to the goofy pre-teens we are at heart. Thanks to the Scherer fam for hosting us!

Mother & Daughter Session

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This was my first time shooting a Mother & Daughter session, and I was so moved by it that I hope to incorporate many more into my business. I am not yet a mom, but as family photographer, and a daughter myself, and I’m starting to realize how fleeting being a mother must feel. A few years back, my mom told me a story that will stick with me for a long time.

When I graduated college, I moved back to Texas and lived at home for a few months before making the decision to move to Seattle. My parents were really supportive of my decision, but they couldn’t hide the bittersweetness of the transition. After dropping me off at the airport for my one-way-flight to Washington, my mom came home to have a glass of wine on the front porch. Like many moms, she was struggling at the thought of one of her children moving across the country, and the idea that we probably we would never live together again. A few minutes in, another neighbor came over to sit down with her, also seeming a bit distraught. “How are you?” my mom asked. The neighbor teared up a bit, saying she had just dropped her daughter off at her first day Kindergarten. She couldn’t believe how quickly time was passing, and that she’d no longer have her daughter with her during the day. My mom chucked a bit and poured her a glass of wine. They sat in silence for a bit, both respecting the space the other was in. How similar yet different these two spaces were.

I was so touched by this story. It reminds me that change is inevitable, and that we are all going through it in our own way. Photography has the power to freeze this change— these fleeting moments. I love that about my job.

Thank YOU (and Happy New Year!)

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To my wonderful clients, friends, and followers: Thank you for all your support this year! This little business of mine is a culmination of many things. At its roots, Catie Bergman Photography is about capturing hope, strength, and connection.

When I look back on the past year, I see all of those things. In my newborn hospital sessions, I see an indestructible bond between a mother and her new baby. I see this mothers sudden selflessness, as she is no longer the most important thing in her world. During my family sessions, I see the intense and loving way father looks at his child — I immediately envision the positive world he hopes to create for him. When photographing a mountain-top sunrise, I see big dreams and possibilities. I feel time moving more quickly, and In this state of hope and passion, I get a sense that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. When photographing a wedding ceremony, I see a partnership made of strength, compassion and admiration. I see a future of humans loving unconditionally, no matter has hard it sometimes seems.

I capture these things because it is exactly what I want the future to see. I want people to look back on these images and gain the same inspiration I had when photographing them. So here’s to 2019; and all the years ahead. I hope this year brings you many moments filled with hope, strength, and connection.




Holiday Gift Guide for Photo Lovers - From a Photographer

Photo by  ian dooley  on  Unsplash

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

“I want to get my significant other something nice this year, do you have any camera recommendations?” I’ve been asked a version of this question many times, so I thought I’d compile some neat gift ideas for your photo loving friends and family. These gifts are great for professionals, hobbyists, and phone photographers alike!


1. Fujifilm Instax Mini

for your hipster friend

Film is not dead! Nor is it hard to use with these amazing little instant cameras. They actually produce great little film momentos, and the camera itself won’t break the bank.

2. Parabo Press Square Prints

for your friend who loves Instagram

These little prints are the perfect way to bring iPhone photos to life! I’ve ordered many and I love how modern and classy they look. Even better, the first 25 you order are free!

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First 25 FREE, Parabo Press

3. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

for your technical hobbyist friend

If you’re looking for a really great camera thats under $500, look no further. The Olympus OM-D is a small and fairly simple mirrorless camera that produces great results. It’s compact, affordable, and has a really great lens selection to choose from.

4. ONA Camera Bag - The Bowery

for your friend who is always on-the-go

ONA is a company that originally filled a void in the industry. They produce camera bags that are functional, stylish, and last forever! I bought a leather ONA bag 5 years ago and its only gotten better with age. The Bowery is a great little camera bag that fits at least a body, a lens, and some personal items. Camera gear is expensive! Make sure you have a good bag to transport it safely.

5. Moment Wide Lens for Phone

for you friend who loves using their phone camera

Feeling a bit limited by the fixed lens on your phone? Moment lens’ come in all different sizes and attach to your phone so you can photograph with different focal lengths on-the-go. They’re simple to attach and since the phone crops in for stabilization, they’re especially helpful when you’re shooting video.

6. GoPRo HERO7 White

for your epic friend

We all know that person who spends their weekends mountain biking, snowboarding, and inventing their own Hardcore Parkour routes. What better way to record all this than with a GoPro? These little cameras are waterproof, rugged, and produce high quality footage.

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GoPro HERO7

$199, Amazon

7. Graphite Monogrammed FOTOStrap

for your friend who has their own business

My sister got me this for Christmas a few years back, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. This camera strap allows you to personalize with your own logo! Its a fun way to advertise, and I receive comments on it all the time. Even better, the company donates 10% of all proceeds to Fotolanthropy.

8. Humans of New York Book

for your friend who likes to learn about other people

If you’ve not already addicted to Brandon Stantons version of storytelling, I’d take a look at his facebook page. Stanton has an amazing ability to interview strangers off the street and come away with touching and intriguing stories. His first book is one of my favorites, and a great gift that should never leave the coffee table.

9. Understanding Exposure

for your friend who wants to learn how to take great photographs

I’ve learned the most about photography from practicing on my own, but one has to start somewhere. This was the first camera book I bought and I don’t plan on giving it up. Understanding Exposure gives a great foundation for light, aperture, and shutter speed; and demystifies how the three work together.

10. Manfrotto Mini Tripod

for your friend who needs some stability in their life

This mini tripod is perfect for adventuring since it’s sturdy and super compact. I’ve used it to stabilize my camera for video, astrophotography, long exposure shots at the beach, self timer shots, etc. I’m always thankful to have it in my bag.

11. Artifact Uprising Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar

for your over-committed friend

Why not include some of your favorite photos on the calendar you look at everyday? Artifact Uprising produces tangible photo goods that are both classy and time-less, and this calendar is one of my favorites.

12. Framebridge The Logan

for your friend who loves decorating

Anyone else guilty of printing photos and then never getting around to displaying them? I’m totally guilty of starting projects and never finishing, thankfully Framebridge is here to help! They do online custom framing for whatever image you choose- and then ship right to your doorstep.


Glacier National Park & More

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See below for the third and final installment of Dan and I’s cross-country camping trip last summer. This post covers Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana! We loved each of these states for different reasons, but I think Montana stole our hearts. After spending a couple days exploring Glacier National Park, we found Flathead National Forest, an area that allowed for camping right on secluded and scenic lake. Ollie loved getting his zoomies out here, and we loved getting to relax, swim, and enjoy some killer sunsets. I’m a little sad to finish editing all my photos from this trip. Scroll to the bottom and comment if you have any questions!

Moab, Utah

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This was Dan and my second time in Moab and we loved it even more than the first. Granted, our first time we awoke to a thunderstorm causing our tent to blow away…and drove to the nearest hotel. This time around, we camped on some BLM land and had several acres all to ourselves. The view was beautiful!! The weather was hot, but dry, and made for some incredible sunrises. Our dog loved the space and freedom to explore, and Dan slowly got comfortable with Ollie disappearing for a bit…he always came back to us. ;).

Maternity Session / Magnuson Park

Since I photograph about 15 newborn sessions a week, maternity shoots are a really beautiful change of pace. A reminder of what its like before the craziness begins. Moms (and dads!) are often emotional and exhausted, but so excited to meet their little one. And I mean this- I think pregnant woman glow!! There is this beauty they give off that runs deep. Capturing it is one of my favorite things. Add a dog, a sweet husband, and some cool PNW beach clouds in the mix and you’ve got one happy photographer. :)

Downtown Seattle Rooftop Session / Hurn Family

Sometimes I delay editing a session because I don’t want the experience to end. This was one of those for sessions me. Shauna is a fellow photographer and friend of mine and we’d talked about doing a shoot at this location for a while; so getting to photograph her family here was such a treat! I loved spending the evening chasing around her 2 boys and seeing the world as they see it. Their energy was contagious and I couldn’t help but smile all the way home.

Seattle Portrait Session/ SoDo Studio

Mark is an attorney who just launched his own law business, and we had a blast creating some shots for his website. This studio has some neat old windows with TONS of natural light- it was perfect for the personable yet professional look he was going for. Check out his website here! https://www.marktysonlaw.com/

Vashon Newborn Lifestyle Session

This home session was a neat one. Mallory and Matt had just finished building their first home on Vashon Island. (Not sure how they managed to do this at the same time as having a new baby…) Even cooler, Mallory grew up in a house on this same lot. Years after her family moved, the house caught on fire and was abandoned for 16 years. Mallory and her husband, Matt, decided to build their first home on this lot, and moved in not long before our session. You can follow their blog here: https://dandelionsdrywall.com/

I loved that I got to capture the space at a time like this. I can only imagine the walls will be filled with framed photos, finger paintings, and handwritten notes as their family grows. But for now, just like their new daughter, everything is so fresh- so new! This home has so many sweet memories to come. :)



Seattle Newborn Lifestyle Session

Newborn home sessions are one of my favorite things to photograph. The transition of having a new baby in the house isn't easy- parents are often sleep deprived, covered in spit up, and anxious about getting everything "right." But despite all of this, capturing a new baby in his home is so beautiful. Everything is new. The dog is still getting used to his scent. The parents are learning what keeps him calm and how to swaddle. The baby is learning what this crazy thing called life is. And I love that I get to stand back and capture it.

Jane & Phoebe / Walla Walla

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When Jane and Phoebe contacted me about photographing their wedding at our alma mater, I was ecstatic. The little town of Walla Walla is a magical place, and photographing these two beautiful ladies here was a dream come true. I don't believe in soulmates, or there being that "one right person",  but YOU GUYS- Jane and Phoebe are literally perfect for each other. They have a type of love is so honest, strong, and all encompassing.  It was such a treat to be spend the weekend witnessing and I'm SO excited for their future together.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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One of my favorite parts about road trips is the flexibility. In July, Dan and I drove from Seattle to New Mexico to photograph a wedding, and planned to camp in Colorado on the way back. With the wildfires and unpredictable thunderstorms, we decided on a whim to head to the Grand Teton National Park. (What's an extra 500 miles??) We were so excited to final see the Tetons and they definitely did not disappoint.

We spent 3 days camping and hiking in the Bridger-Teton National Forest since dogs are allowed, and our pup Ollie had a blast chasing bugs and frolicking through the wildflowers. (Luckily he never brought back any bears with him!) I'm already so excited to plan a trip back to Jackson. The sunrises, stargazing, and cool summer temperatures are pretty hard to beat.

Katie & Eric / Love in New Mexico

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Some days this job feels like a dream. When Katie approached me about photographing her wedding in New Mexico last fall, I was thrilled. I love traveling- but traveling for work!! Even better.

Katie and Eric’s wedding was extra special because it took place on property in New Mexico that has been in the family for many generations. Located in a sub range of the Rockies and filled with quaint family cabins and stretches of forest that hold more memories than one could imagine. Eric grew up with this place as his safe space, his space to adventure, his community. Ultimately, his home away from home. 

The wedding took place right in the middle of Monsoon session so the ceremony was at 11am to avoid any storms.   It was a day filled with dancing, barbecue, and so many beautiful toasts that I lost count. Katie and Eric are some of the kindest and fun loving people I’ve had the chance to photograph and their warmth was seriously contagious. 

Katie and Eric,  thank you so much for including me in your wedding and for putting your trust into me. The love you two have for one another is truly something special and I'm so glad I got to capture it.

Best wishes to you both!

Catie

 

Planning Your Wedding Day / Lighting

Natural light makes me giddy. I live for the golden light that makes everything feel like a movie, or the nostalgic feel of soft blue light at dusk.

As your photographer, my goal is not to recreate the lighting of the situation, but to capture the feeling of your day. I want you to look back on the photos and remember the warmth of the sun, or the smell of the rain right before it began (hello Seattle!)

Here are a few tips to help schedule for throughout your day. Keep in mind this is in no way something you must follow, merely a guide if your day has flexibility and you want to enhance the feel of your photos.

Getting Ready

This is one of my favorites parts of the day! The mood is high and good lighting can help capture this even more beautifully. 

The ideal lighting situation would be a room with big windows that allow lots of natural light to come through. Clean and interesting decor is helpful, but as long as there is some window light, I can make any space work. 

 

Ceremony

I love outdoor ceremonies! If you decide to have one in direct sunlight, I recommend avoiding mid-day hours (10am to 3pm) as this provides harsh shadows.  In summer months, the best time for the ceremony would be several hours before the sun goes down.

If you do have a mid-day ceremony, I suggest setting things up so the sun is behind the alter, and the guests are facing the sun. If the ceremony is in the morning, have the guests face towards the sunrise (East,) and if your ceremony is in late afternoon evening, have your guests face towards the sunset (West.)

 

Family Photos

Less is more when it comes to the backdrop for family photos. I know... I know, you've chosen a gorgeous location to get married at and you want to highlight this! But keep in mind, a clean background is ideal for consistency and simplicity in group photos. 

 

Reception

The reception style has a lot of flexibility based on your style and  what you want your space to feel like. With artificial lighting, I lean towards warm light and love the aesthetic of Italian string lights! They look great near the dining, dancing, and seating areas- especially when the sun goes down! Check out the beautiful Bokeh they provide in the background of the photos below!

 

Bride and Groom Portraits

If there is time, I always suggest doing some portraits at golden hour. This is the last hour before the sun goes below the horizon, and allows for some dreamy and surreal looking photos!  These photos can be done in 20 or 30 minutes, and are a fun chance for the bride and groom to get some alone time after the ceremony (when the stress is gone!)

 

Concluding Words:

Obviously you can't predict what the weather on your day will actually be like. I always suggest planning for harsh direct sunlight, but if it turns out to be a cloudy day, don't fret! Overcast weather is beautiful lighting that acts like a giants soft box. It looks beautiful on people and allows the timing of photos to be even more flexible. 

If you have any questions, let me know! I'm excited to help.

Cheers! 

Catie