Author Archives: Jesse Cunningham

Kellie and Brian: Swiftwater Cellars Wedding Photography

Kellie and Brian gathered friends and family from all over the country to celebrate their wedding at Swiftwater Cellars winery at Suncadia. A sunny but breezy outdoor ceremony was followed by a reception in the Swiftwater Room, a beautiful stone and wooden-beamed cellar space where the winery does their production and fermentation. While I am often drawn to outdoor landscapes for photographing bride and groom portraits and wedding party photos, the indoor and architectural spaces that Swiftwater offers give many options for a wedding photographer to take beautiful, creative portraits without ever leaving the building. I especially like the solid wood doors, the barrel rooms–where the wine is aged–and the medieval European ambiance of the Black Diamond room. As an extra bonus, the temperature-controlled barrel room offers a welcome cool-down on a hot day. After dinner and cake cutting (I love how it looks like they are about to take a big bite out of the cake in this shot), the dance floor lit up and it was truly an all-ages event with everyone out on the floor.

Shelly and Eric: Pasco Tri-Cities Farm Wedding Photography

Shelly and Eric had a beautiful wedding at Shelly’s family farm in Pasco, WA. They did a tremendous amount of planning and preparation– everything from building a terrace and arch for the backyard ceremony location, to the stripey straws in their lemonade glasses. Oh, and did I mention the lemonade? It was 90+ degrees out and a glass of fresh lemonade was one of the highlights of my day. I had a wonderful time working with them as their wedding photographer. We made good use of the props available to us, including tractors, shade trees, hay fields and I even got the wedding party onto a train for some portraits. Sunset photos in the hay field were a perfect opportunity for the couple to get a few minutes of alone time and for me to capture some dramatic romantic portraits.

Whitney and Jason: Leavenworth Wedding Photography at Sleeping Lady

I just had my second weekend in a row doing wedding photography at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth. Although I might be at the same location, every wedding is different and each couple unique in their own way. Whitney and Jason were a blast to work with and they, and their friends and family, kept me laughing all day long. They did a “first look” overlooking Icicle Creek, followed by a ceremony on “the knoll” with views of Sleeping Lady Mountain. At the end of the ceremony the crazy sunglasses came out and the whole wedding party danced out with funky music to accompany them. When we were getting ready to do some portraits they said to me, “we want to do a photo with the fish.” “Great,” I said, “Give me just a minute and I’ll be right over.” When I looked up to see them by the fish they were puckering and making fish faces. Capturing these moments of silliness and emotion are part of what makes being a wedding photographer so fun and interesting for me.

Nara and Chris: Leavenworth Wedding Photography at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort

Nara and Chris had perfect early summer weather for their wedding at Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth. They were joined by friends and family for a wonderful outdoor ceremony and celebration of their marriage. Nara and Chris both have a love for outdoor recreation and had biking and skiing themes incorporated into their wedding day– including table names after places they had skied together, a pair of old skis for guests to sign, and my personal favorite: a tandem bike that they used for their formal exit at the end of the night. As a wedding photographer who loves to incorporate outdoor landscapes into my portraits, I had no shortage of great locations to get some beautiful photos of the bride and groom. The gardens were particularly beautiful, with so many of the flowers in bloom, and many of my favorites from the day came from a quick escape from the festivities that we took into the garden.

Cassie and Steve: Winter Wedding at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth

I was thrilled when Cassie and Steve contacted me about being their photographer for a winter wedding in Leavenworth, Washington. I understand why winter weddings may not be for everyone but I think winter is a beautiful time of the year, particularly in the mountains. It takes a special couple to plan a winter wedding and Cassie and Steve injected their love of the outdoors into many of the details of their celebration. Pre-wedding events included skiing and tubing at Stevens Pass and the Leavenworth Ski Hill. A beautiful wedding ceremony was held outdoors overlooking the aptly-named Icicle Creek and was followed by an intimate indoor reception with a roaring fireplace and lots of steaming-hot winter-seasonal comfort food. Some of the fun details that made their wedding unique were the S’mores dessert bar and the inclusion of their nutcracker friend, Woody. Leavenworth is known for its Bavarian-themed village and Woody Goomsba is a character made famous by Leavenworth’s tourism campaigns. It was a pleasure to work with Cassie and Steve and I wish them, and Woody, the best in all of their future adventures together.

Fall Engagement Photos in the Aspens at Mountain Springs Lodge

Regardless of the season, I have a hard time passing by a grove of aspen trees when I have a camera in my hand. I am taken by their uniformity and symmetry (when you see a grove of aspens they are all clones of a single organism propagated through the roots), their smooth gray bark and, in the fall, their brilliant yellow foliage. I have been waiting for the right opportunity to do an engagement photography shoot in an aspen grove for a some time now and am pleased to have found a couple who also thought it sounded look a good idea. I met up with Ksenia and Taylor at Mountain Springs Lodge in Plain, WA (just outside of Leavenworth, WA) on a cool fall afternoon with the aspens in full fall splendor. We spent about an hour doing a tour of various aspen groves around the property, including a picturesque grove with large, mature trees, where many outdoor wedding ceremonies are held. In addition to the aspens, the dried grasses in the fields added a lot of nice texture and color to the compositions. During the shoot we chatted casually and I did my best to relax them both so that I could capture some natural and spontaneous moments. I had a fun time with Ksenia and Taylor and I am looking forward to working with them again as their photographer for their wedding day next summer.

Lindsay and Michael Leavenworth Wedding Sleeping Lady Resort

I had the great pleasure to photograph another wedding at Sleeping Lady Resort recently. Sleeping Lady is a spectacular wedding venue and vacation basecamp located right on Icicle Creek in Leavenworth, WA. In addition to its amazing grounds and location, Sleeping Lady never disappoints with its outstanding gourmet meals made from local ingredients, many sourced from its very own organic garden. I was honored to be a part of Lindsay and Michael’s wedding day. They are the kind of couple who are filled with positive energy and make everyone around them smile. They also surrounded themselves with tons of wonderful friends and family to celebrate their marriage. The ceremony combined a number of spiritual traditions to create a unique and beautiful celebration of their spirituality and love for one another. A ceremonial hand washing of the bride and groom by members of both families, with the bowls of water being combined and used to water a nearby tree,  as well as an offering of fruit and flowers to the river may be seen in the following photos. Beautiful flower arrangements were provided by Patti Bosket/Au Naturel. Interestingly enough, this was the second wedding I have shot where the wedding cake was a kransekake, a traditional Norwegian and Danish wreath cake eaten on special occasions. After an emotional ceremony and a wonderful dinner, the party really started to pick up. The dancing was a blast with a crowded dance floor filled with people of all ages. We had slow dancing, break dancing, air guitar and some all-around funkiness skilfully DJed by Leslie from Seattle Parties. It was the most energetic wedding dance party I have seen in a long time.

Leavenworth Wedding Engagement Photos in the Snow

A few weeks ago I did my first engagement photography session of the year in Leavenworth, WA. Kim and Scott have a wedding planned for later in the summer and were interested in having some winter engagement photos taken. One of the things I like about doing engagement sessions is that they give me a chance to begin to build a relationship with couples before their wedding day. My goal is to get them feeling comfortable with me and the camera so that they can relax and have fun, and I can take more candid photos. Kim admitted to me ahead of time that they feel awkward about getting their photos taken. So do I. That is why I don’t like lining people up and telling them to face me and smile, while I take a picture. It feels awkward and it rarely captures people being themselves.

In the week leading up to our shoot, I was watching the weather to see what kind of conditions we might have. The forecast was for mostly sunny skies with a small chance of snow later in the day. Whether we had sun or snow flurries, I knew we would have a fun time. I showed up early with sunny skies and scoped out some possible locations and noted the lighting conditions. By the time Kim and Scott arrived, the sky had become completely grey and snow was beginning to fall. The downside was that all of the beautiful late-day golden winter light was gone. The upside was that the cloud cover creates a nice soft light that is both flattering and potentially easier to work with, and besides I like snow. We started off slowly and by the end of the session Kim and Scott were having fun and smiling more spontaneously and maybe even forgetting, even if  just for a moment, that I was there with a camera.


Bainbridge Island Wedding

One of things that I like best about living in Washington state is the wide range of natural habitats and beautiful places to visit. I am a mountain person by nature. I love to be out in the mountains whenever I can, but it is also really refreshing to visit the ocean. The islands of Puget Sound and the the San Juan Islands all have their own unique character and are only a short trip from the bustle of Seattle. Summer is a beautiful time to visit the islands and also a great time for weddings. I photographed a beautiful, simple wedding on Bainbridge Island this summer for Jennifer and Jon. Jennifer was a stunning bride and Jon was lot of fun since he likes to joke about everything, although he was (mostly) very serious about his vows. Wedding photography can be very challenging, especially for outdoor ceremonies, because you never know what you are going to get for weather conditions. The forecast was for late afternoon rain, but we were fortunate to avoid the rain. We had overcast skies, which may not be the sunny day most brides imagine for their wedding day, but is not a bad thing for photographs. Overcast days create a beautiful soft light that is flattering and easy for your photographer to work with. After a very touching ceremony with a small group of friends and family, Jennifer and Jon donned their muck boots and launched a canoe with a “Just Married” sign and paddled out into the bay. Some of my favorite photos were taken during their paddle in the bay and the casual time between the ceremony and the reception. The reception was held at The Four Swallows Restaurant with superb food, service and atmosphere.

Mount Rainier Wedding Photography

I recently photographed a beautiful wedding at the Copper Creek Inn in Ashford, WA just outside the border of Mount Rainier National Park. As a photographer who has their roots in outdoor adventure and landscape photography and who loves to be in the mountains, I couldn’t ask for a better location to inspire my creativity and capture some beautiful images. Krista and Bryon share a love for the outdoors with each other (which is also what brought them to me) and had requested doing some portraits in the park before their wedding ceremony. We planned to do some photos at two classic locations in the park- Reflection Lakes, for the views of the mountain and its reflection in the lakes, and Paradise for its alpine meadows and summer wildflowers. Normally for an August wedding this would be no problem. However, this year a huge lingering snowpack still remained at Paradise, and Reflection Lakes still had patches of snow around it. Paradise would be out for wildflowers, Reflection Lakes could still be an option. I scouted some locations the night before to have some ideas ahead of time and also remained open to suggestions from Krista and Bryon and opportunities that might present themselves. I wanted to make sure we got some classic mountain photos and also some more casual, fun photos of them just enjoying their wedding day. We had a lot of fun goofing around, getting cheers, honks and congratulations from passing tourists and were even able to borrow a kind couple’s 55 Chevy. A sampling of the morning portrait shoot is below.