IMG_0403-copyI have learned so much about myself, life, dogs etc. and have come to realize that owning a Portuguese Water Dog, namely my Auggie, (who is on the far spectrum of high energy and intensity) has made me a better person. He has taught (really forced me) how to be more patient and has provided me with a mirror into myself. I’ve decided to write about this experience to help other people, particularly anyone who is thinking of getting a Portuguese Water Dog, or has a puppy and is trying to figure it all out. My mind is so full right now of all of the things….I think I’ll just start writing and later categories the information more as the info comes out. I continue to learn and improve every day…If you are considering getting a Portuguese Water Dog, it’s very important to research the breed, know what you are getting into and make a commitment. There may be times you feel like crying…it’s challenging, but well worth it if you keep doing the work. It will make you a better person, and you will have an amazing dog in the end if you do! I do not believe owning or having experience raising a dog is a prerequisite, but knowing the basics would be helpful. I do know that there are people who have owned dogs before that gave up on their PWD because it was just too much. Getting your PWD from a reputable responsible, ethical breeder is the first step. If they are not willing to take the dog back, no questions asked, they are not a responsible breeder and you should avoid them like the plague! I also believe it’s your responsibility to research and know what you are siging up for before doing so. This is a 15 year commitment.

Your energy, vibe, emotions, extend out into your dog. especially an in tuned, inquisitive, intelligent Portuguese Water Dog. This is true for so many things, in training, on walks and also in the show ring. In the show ring you want your dog to be confident, have fun, have a nice gait. If you are sluggish, unsure, or don’t have a nice gait yourself-this will extend out to your dog. On walks you want your dog to be confident, you want to trust your dog and know what do do appropriatly on a walk. If you are frustrated with your dog, they will be naughty. Set them up for success, work with your dog and prepare them properly. Always use positive reinforcement techniques, you’ll have quicker, better, longer lasting results and truly a better dog in the end that you’ll know you can trust.

What I wish I would have known, or been told, or understood to do in the beginning when he was a puppy:
The most important things to focus on in training with your puppy: ALWAYS use positive reinforcement. I never used to really completely understand this and my dog has shown me that this truly is a much more effective way to train a dog. ESPECIALLY a highly intelligent dog. I even whisper to my dog, and he responds to this much better than for example when my husband gets frustrated and yells or scolds him. They will mirror back to you!

The 3 commands to focus on in the begining with a new puppy every single day, with several sessions per day: 1.) OFF (means paws off of you, chair, etc.), 2.) LEAVE IT, and the most important one 3.) COME. It’s important that training sessions are ALWAYS a positive experience. Start small and slowly, gradually build into longer sessions or more repetitions. If you use a calm, gentle energy, in time they will reflect this back to you with their behavior. If you scold, yell, push, etc., this will back fire on you as they will reflect that back at you. Remember this little furball is going to be a very powerful dog that can some day take you down-literally! Auggie has NEVER shown agression or even growled and he rarely even barks, but he is physically very powerful. he can, and has: knocked me over, in play-put an adult Great Pyrenees on her back and held her down! So a solid “Off” and “COME” are extremely important! Details on training these three things and more to follow.

Socializing your dog does not mean letting them come into contact with as many new people and or dogs as possible. Actaully, the goal of good socialization is to get your dog to be comfortable in new situations and behave for you. The way to accomplish this is to not let them be petted and come into contact with dogs and people, but to have them focus on you and your “commands’ in this new environment and ignore the people and other dogs. If your dog has followed your commands, they can be rewarded with a petting session by a stranger, but they cannot jump on anyone, and still have to “listen”. Following protocol for the CGC test (Canine Good Citizen) can be a good structure for this. The only regrets I have is that I trained Auggie from day one that he has to be in a sit stay to be rewarded with a pet from a stranger, and now he wants to “sit” for the judge in the show ring, because he wants them to pet him! He is now learning to instaed “stand” (free stack) for strangers lol! He picked up on it pretty quickly once I figured out why he was doing this and changed my appraoch.

We even had dog trainers who claimed to use positive reinforcement techniques give really bad advice about scolding our dog, or snapping him on the nose. This type of training can sometimes be effective for breeds of lesser intelligence, or less confident dogs, which is why I believe some trainers continue to use these techniques. If they have ever owned a highly intelligent dog like a PWD, one that is highly confident as well, they would quickly come to realize this only backfires on you. They reflect back to you what you “demonstrate”. I actually think for that reason, owning a PWD would be an excellent way to prepare someone for raising a child. Sidenote: Our Auggie is so incredibly confident that I believe if he were to ever be attacked by a dog more powerful than him, he would not let up trying to get the dog to be “friends”. My husband and I always joke about this imaginary scenario, he would say: “OK, let’s try this again, my name is Auggie, what’s yours?” and not back away or retreat. This dog breed is commonly used for rescue purposes in Portugal. There’s a famous YOU Tube video of one jumping from a helicopter into the ocean to save a person drowning. I can totally imagine our Auggie doing something like that-only he can’t swim, so there is that…lol! He has had MANY opportunities to practice, we just put him in a life jacket now and he has a blast!

I had the most positive experience with Auggie’s breeder; Penny Wetmore of Belle Palin, MN (Meridian Portuguese Water Dogs). By the time we brought Auggie home to live with us, he was 10 weeks old. He was almost completely potty trained already and was very comfortable going into and spending time in his crate. Those two basic things can be huge hurdles to overcome in training a puppy, and I’ve see people give up on puppies because of problems with one of those two different issues. In fact, I just read a Facebook post by someone who had decided to give back her 9 month old PWD puppy because she came home from work to a couch that had been chewed open and de-stuffed. People asked why the puppy was not in his crate while she was at work, the owner responded that the dog did not like being in his crate, that he whined and whined. She explained that she was a nurse and worked long hours, she needed her sleep and could not deal with the whining. If your breeder has taken the time to introduce your puppy to a crate, they will have a much easier time adjusting to life that includes sometimes being in one. This is an absolute must for the dog’s safety and your sanity for your dog to be crate trained. The amount of time they spend in the crate will depend on the age and training level of your dog. The older they get and the more well trained they are, the less time they will need to spend in the crate. It is, however a good idea to continue to use the crate in their daily routine, so it becomes just that-routine. There are times when your dog will need to be put in a crate: at the vet, at the groomer’s, traveling, etc.. so if your dog is accustomed to it, it’s no big deal to them. They actually feel comfortable doing it, it becomes a safe place for them in strange unfamiliar places. A well trained & socialized dog does not mind being in a crate. A dog should never be forced to go into a crate, or to do anything for that matter. Instead they will respond much better both in the moment, and moving forward in the future if they are coaxed into doing it. This is true for anything, especially puppies. Trauma can scar your puppy and stay with them for life. Remember training should always be positive. Golden rule of training: Try to end on a positive note, and set them up to succeed! Have a goal before you start, keep expectations real for the level of training your puppy or dog is at.

We are also members of our local PWD club and it has been great to see and hear about other dogs like him and the “adventures” they have had with their owners, as well as attend fun activities like indoor pool swim dates with our dogs and practice water trials. We maintain a relationship with Auggie’s breeder who has been very supportive and helpful, as every ethical breeder should be. We love our PWD and take him everywhere we can with him. He is so well behaved in public he is often mistaken as a service dog. He has a very strong work drive, so it has forced me to work him every single day. Luckily I have a work schedule that allows a lot of flexibility and time with him. I would not recomend a dog with a strong work drive to someone who works a full time job with little flexibility, unless you have a spouse who can help. They cannot be in a crate all day and need to be menatlly worked and exercised. He does agility, obedience (he has his CGC title), scent work, and conformation. Auggie has siblings (litter mates) who has less strong of a work drive and they are not active in these dog sports and apparently do just fine. They do, however have owners who have flexible work schedules and are able to spend a lot of time with them. They are “velcro dogs’ and need to be close to thier owner. They tend to bond to one person and want to be with that person.


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I recently purchased one of those kits you can buy to make your own hot cocoa bombs and also recently saw a Japanese You Tuber pastry chef demonstrate how to make clear sugar domes…so I decided to put the two things together and it worked so well, I just had to share!

So here’s what you’ll need:
Isomalt Sugar
chocolate chips
2 inch silicone molds
a small silicone brush
fillings for your bombs like candy canes and miniature marshmallows


Melt your isolmalt sugar in a pan-be careful not to burn yourself on this stuff-it holds heat! Pour a small amount into each mold-about 1/3 full. Spread around, especially up to the edges. Once they are all well coated, pop the molds into the freezer for a few minutes. Remove from the freezer and “peel” away the mold to remove each 1/2 globe. Set aside. Melt your chocolate and do the same thing-coat each mold, pop in the freezer. Once you have all of your glass 1/2 domes and your chocolate 1/2 domes, fill them with your choice of goodies-candy canes, mini marshmallows, etc.. Then “glue” the 1/2 domes together with frosting, then carefully dip the edges into some sprinkles to cover the seams.



It’s fun to watch the dome sink into your hot cocoa! They melt really fast!




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People often ask me what’s the coolest wedding I’ve photographed, that questions is really hard to answer because it depends on what you mean by “cool”. The couple’s personality can really change the whole experience of a wedding-really outgoing couples who like to party will be a completely different experience from a reserved couple who likes a lot of privacy. (both are enjoyable in their own way)  We’ve photographed weddings where celebrities were there, weddings where the bride sang a song to the groom that brought guests to tears, weddings that were an adventure to get to, and small private weddings that were very personal and meaningful that left me changed forever just from being witness to that kind of love-which is really why I love being a wedding photographer so much, my clients really inspire me! Also-I find travel to be very exciting and right up there in the “cool” department, so I’m going to narrow it down to destination weddings for the “coolest” ones we’ve photographed.

Why is travel so exciting? I think travel changes & inspires you. Getting away to a change of scenery, and sometimes even the process of getting there… One of the most exciting trips I have ever taken was a trip to Belize (Ambergris Caye) with my husband. This was completely for pleasure, the highlights being 1.)How we got there-a small prop plane that only fit up to 6 people including the 2 pilots, and diving with sharks! You can see some clips from that trip on my Instagram here. That was so much fun, but one of our “favorite” trips was about our 30th time to Cozumel which was in 2019 right before the pandemic hit. It was our “puppy moon” trip, we wanted to carve away some time to just relax in our favorite location on the planet before bringing home our new puppy. Even though we’ve been there a million times, this time was different because instead of exploring, hiking, doing tours, we literally did almost nothing but listen to the ocean, relax outside and be at peace with each other in this magical place…we still talk about that trip and how wonderful it was. This is the view from our condo:IMG_6506--for-web-copyBut I’m sort of digressing…To answer the original question, I’ll list my picks for top destinations, but include selections with a variety of laid back chill places and also places that offer a lot of activity for your guests, and one that can actually provide both options…I’ll save that one for the end!

For a Minnesota Destination wedding, I cannot recommend enough the north shore, BUT specifically Surfside (Bluefin Bay family of resorts) The views at that particular spot are seriously freaking amazing! They even allow dogs if you want to bring them along. The only downside is they book at least a year out, so you really need to plan ahead. Taylor & Rick had their wedding there and it was so awesome we had to go back the following year, just us and our dog, it was such an enjoyable stay, even during the pandemic-with so many beautiful sights, hiking trails and a dog friendly brewery in nearby Grand Marais! It provides everything you could want-epic scenery for photos, lovely luxury accommodations for you and your guests and enjoyable activity for your guests as well.IMG_1824

Mexico is one of our favorite vacation spots because we enjoy the warm Caribbean. We have photographed a few weddings in the Cancun/Playa Del Carmen area, which has so many affordable options for accommodations. One resort in particular in Playa Del Carmen that did a fantastic job for Ashley & Stuart is Riu Yucatan on the southern edge of Playa, it’s near the jungle so they have howler monkeys all over the property, which was really an amazing experience. Just check out this video on You Tube to see what I’m talking about. Hearing the sound of them in the distance in the jungle sounds like lions roaring! Don’t worry, they are not so loud you can’t sleep or anything, just really cool to experience.

Cozumel, as you heard me mention already, is a much more laid back, quiet destination in Mexico than Cancun. We know the island very well and would love for someone to get married there and bring us along to photograph! Amazingly we have not had the opportunity yet, but if you’re thinking of a warm destination for a winter wedding, this is THE spot in my opinion and I’m happy to offer ideas and help you plan! Direct flights are a little spendy but accommodations are not, and you can always take a cab from the Cancun airport to the ferry to save a bunch of money if you’re looking for ways to save. Some resorts have large sandy beaches and some of the smaller boutique resorts have coral beaches with beautiful views as well.IMG_6727IMG_6726

And finally, a destination that will literally please any guest is Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas…a destination like no other, it includes budget friendly accommodations and extreme luxury, activities for kids, as well as a hotel on the property that’s adult only, a whole island that’s truly incredible & unique! Your photographer will require a special Visa to cover your wedding, but the process is really easy and all of the staff on the island truly go above and beyond for you and your guests, even your hired photographer! Cory & Jen had an incredible destination wedding on a private beach (yes-no random strangers walking down the beach during your ceremony!) Trent and I had so much fun taking them around to different spots for photos, they were game for anything. It was a truly memorable wedding that probably tops them all!
IMG_4419-4IMG_4398IMG_4288-copy-copyIMG_4271IMG_3720-for-webIMG_4321I really like being helpful and sharing what I’ve learned from photographing destination weddings and international travel for several decades now. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about any of these or other locations we’ve photographed weddings at, or even if you’re just planning a trip and looking for info-I’m happy to help in any way!

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What is flashback? Flashback is the white glow is caused by specific SPF ingredients found in foundations, concealer, and tinted moisturizers, and by silica, which is the main ingredient in HD powders.

Wedding day makeup tip: PLEASE make sure your makeup artist does not use any makeup on your face that may have UV protection, SPF or reflective highlighting properties! This will show up in your photos and can be very difficult to correct!

Even the most experienced professionals can make this mistake. Most are aware of this but many are not. I won’t post images of clients who had this issue, instead I’ll post some public images of celebrities:

You can also read more about this here

Another thing, please also be sure to use lipstick that does not come off when you kiss, do I need to explain why? I am shocked by how many makeup artists don’t consider this when doing wedding day makeup. Just two reasons why a trial makeup before your wedding day are so important.

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2020 was challenging for everyone but thankfully, we got through it.  I am grateful for all of my wonderful clients and proud of them for getting through such a challenging time. Allthough things were different, there was still just as much joy and happiness! It was such an honor to be a part of it! For us personally, I’m glad that we had made the decision in October of 2019 to bring home our Portuguese Water Dog puppy, the way things turned out the timing ended up being perfect.  This breed is very high maintenance, and the puppy phase is the most challenging (and important), so I was really able to focus a lot of my time and energy on raising a really, really good dog.  He is now one year old and working on his Canine Good Citizen title!  We were also able to spend more time with family, and working on projects around our home and our hobby farm as well.  Some of our weddings did postpone, but some of them did not.  We had a variety of weddings through the pandemic, some were able to go ahead with about 200 guests as planned, and some scaled way down to more intimate celebrations. I am really impressed with my clients and how well they all got through it.  I was really happy to be able to be source of support for them as they navigated through it all with things changing week to week and sometimes day to day. They each had to make decisions based on what made the most sense for them and their situation.  Some of the most amazing and innovative things came of it, it will definitely be a year we will never forget!

Thank you so much for visiting my Blog, if you would like to see more, please follow me here on Instagram!
Here’s just a few images from some of our 2020 Weddings:

Just a few of my favorites from McKenna & Adam’s wedding:

Mackenzie & Zach’s wedding:

Kacie & Jeff’s wedding:




Julie & Brian’s Wedding:

Chelsie & D’s wedding:
Amy & Brendan’s wedding:

Me with my best boy Auggie:
*Please note some of my clients prefer to keep their images private so not all of my weddings are posted online, including this blog post.

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