Savannah Chandler Photography | Estes Park Engagement Photographer
Ahhhhh, Dream Lake. With it’s stunning shoreline, Hallett Peak majestically booming in the background, and some of the best sunrise light out there. Oh, and it’s only a 2.2 mile roundtrip hike! Such a short hike to have such an amazing payoff. It’s one of my favorite locations within Estes Park to tell out of state visitors to check out.
As stunning as sunrise is at Dream, to catch the amazing pink light hitting the crescent shaped mountain and spires, you have to begin hiking early in the dark. And in June, you have to start the earliest due to the sun rising so early in the morning. There may be snow in these photos, but don’t let that deceive you. THIS WAS IN JUNE, lol. The summer of 2019 was off to a cold (or more so than recent years) start. The snow lasted in high elevations through August. Just something to always be prepared for here in Crazy Colorado – it could be super frosty during any month 😬
I met Emily and Coty at the trailhead before 5am, so we could spend just under a half hour making our way up the packed down trail. We made it up to the lake just as the sun was beginning to hit the horizon. That first light will always be stunning to me, no matter how many beautiful sunrises I witness. Seeing the sun rise about the trees to meet the land is surreal.
We spend some time, along with Emily’s parents, trekking around in the snow and around the lake’s shores. This particular morning provided red light on the mountains for what seemed like forever! Once the light fully reached over the horizon, we were ready to make our way down into the valleys of Rocky Mountain National Park.
To cap off our awesome Estes Park engagement session, we made a stop at the Beaver ponds in Moraine Valley. Another favorite, and very easily accessible, location with Rocky.
Congratulations, Emily and Coty, and I wish you all the best!!
Check out Rocky Mountain National Park’s Website HERE
Savannah Chandler Photography | Best Colorado Wedding Photographer | Based in Denver, Colorado | Servicing the Rocky Mountain Region and Beyond
Telluride, Granby, Winter Park, Silverton, Ouray, Keystone, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Estes Park, Allenspark, Buena Vista, Crested Butte, Vail, and Arapahoe Basin.
Savannah Chandler Photography | 2019 | Year in Review
I have a lot to say about this past year. To say that a lot happened would be a gross understatement. If I were to put it into one word, it would most likely be: Transformation.
We started our year off not exactly knowing what was going to happen with our son, Colton. To those of you who are unaware, he was diagnosed with Brain Cancer in mid-2018. We spent New Years’s Eve and Day at Children’s hospital while our son was incredibly sick from receiving his second stem cell transplant. The year started in limbo – a place that I’ve never been fond of.
February came, and we finally got to the end of Colton’s treatment. Remission. No evidence of disease. He got to ring the bell on February 25. To those wondering, he’s doing amazing and feels great these days. He started Kinder this past August.
Being in Limbo meant I only took on what I thought would end up being a few weddings, until we were more certain about Colton’s future. I made a huge decision this past year: I decided to only photograph weddings where I felt a genuine connection to the couple and piece of Earth that they’d be celebrating at.
In making this decision, I can say that I’ve had an awesome 2019 with some of the most amazing couples. What I thought would be a slow year turned out to be one of my busiest, and I photographed the most Elopements I ever have this year. I spent my time in places that I love: Keystone, Estes Park, on top of 13ers, Allenspark, Mount Evans, Granby, Vail… All amazing mountains and towns that sing to my soul. During that time, I hiked into the sunset with a couple here from Minnesota to elope on Chiquita Mountain. I rode a party bus up Mt Evans to celebrate with one of our dearest friends and his new wife. I cried my eyes out nearly all day at an incredibly heartfelt traditional Jewish wedding. I got to spend time with couples from previous years and catch up. I hung out the back of a pickup truck while driving around photographing a pre-wedding mountain bike trip. I saw SO many deer and moose try to photobomb us. I hiked to Dream Lake freaking NINE TIMES this summer with amazing couples to catch awesome alpenglows and sunsets. I snowboarded down Arapahoe Basin and straight into an elopement ceremony. I stood out in the snow on June 22. I tried to outrun rain countless times. I spent nearly all my summer and fall chasing light.
I am so deeply thrilled to my core with how 2019 turned out.
To top off our year of transformation, my personal life literally took a 180. We sold our house and bought a new one, I got my new Jeep, we rehomed the most amazing dog, my husband switched career fields, we decided to last minute vacation in Norway – and we decided that the best thing to do is to keep looking forward. Out with the negative, in with the positive.
2020 – I’m looking at you.
I can’t wait to look back and see all the amazing adventures from this upcoming year.
Cheers, and a Happy New Year. Here’s to an amazing 2020.
A few Tidbits of Super Random Information from this last year:
– Nearly 100 miles hiked, and 25,000 miles of elevation climbed. – Have snowboarded nearly 75 miles already, and it’s not even Januray! – Put over 26,000 miles on my brand new Jeep 😳 – Saw 8 Alpenglow sunrises for shoots – Countless sunsets, so many I bought new lighting equipment 🤓 – Found a new love in hiking to alpine lakes to SUP – Was able to spend time at our Cabin in San Luis Vally, and went to the Sand Dunes during two of those visits – Fell in Love with Norway, especially Loen and Skei – Made it out of state only 3 times this year – which is lower than “normal”, but pretty great considering we were hospital bound until March. – Am currently planning at least 3 out of country visits in 2020. – Lenses ruined – Minimum 2. Cameras bodies replaced – 2. – Got to hang out with at minimum 60 awesome people and photograph their beautiful souls.
Lastly, a few of my favorite images and moments from 2019. See you next year!
Strawberry Creek Ranch in Granby is one of my very favorite Colorado wedding venues. It’s tucked back, on a dirt road, and boasts some spectacular views of both Rocky Mountain National Park and the Continental Divide. The light ALWAYS seems to be stunning, as are the sunsets, at Strawberry Creek. So naturally, when Roxie and Scott told me they’d be hosting their wedding at this amazing venue, I was beyond stoked.
Fall in Colorado can be a tricky thing to try and time. Our crazy weather patterns make for the leaves changing at different times every year. This past year, in particular, the leaves changed incredibly late. Roxie and Scott timed their wedding JUST right – the leaves were turning yellow, and we even had quite a bit of orange leaves in the grove on the side of the property! To go along with the changing leaves, the weather was also starting to change… and it was quite cold all afternoon. I personally love being in the Colorado mountains when the air is becoming crisp and you can smell the change in seasons coming.
I love working with wedding planners. They truly help with EVERYTHING. For both couples and vendors. Roxie and Scott were working with Lilli Black, the owner (and all-around badass) of Sweetly Paired Weddings. Lilli had everything on point. The place looked amazing, the timeline left the couple plenty of time to relax and enjoy their day, and us vendors always know it’s going to be a great day when working with Lilli and her team.
To begin their day, Roxie and Scott had their first look on the lawn with the stunning reflection pond in the background. One of my favorite things that I’ve noticed happening more this year is having the first look be more casual and natural as opposed to having one partner tap another on the shoulder. One of my favorite images from the day is Roxie giving the “A-Okay” sign once she saw her groom. <3
Following their beautiful ceremony, performed by Scott’s aunt, everyone enjoyed cocktail hour out on the deck despite the chilling temperature. It was a genuine Colorado wedding indeed. The deck was filled with dresses, blankets, and booze.
Just as my second photographer, Logan, and I sat down to eat our (AMAZING lamb shank) dinner, the sky turned an amazing shade of fire. We threw our forks down and headed out to take some sunset portraits. This past year, after much research, I decided to buy a few parabola umbrellas for lighting just such occasions. I am SO happy with these amazing light modifiers – as you can see, the light quality is SO PRETTY and really makes for stunning night portraits. A big thanks to Logan for schlepping this cumbersome equipment all around the property 😬
After we headed back (and of course finished our amazing lamb dinner), the party in the barn began. It makes my heart sing to see everyone out on the dance floor – with high heels and parkas on. Again, it was SO Colorado. I may be biased, but I think is the best way to celebrate.
Thank you, Roxie and Scott, for inviting us to celebrate your Strawberry Creek Ranch wedding with you and your loved ones. Congratulations, and I wish you the very best!!
Savannah Chandler Photography | Best Colorado Wedding Photographer
Based in Denver Colorado | Photographing in the Rocky Mountain Region and Beyond
KEYSTONE, ASPEN, BRECKENRIDGE, ESTES PARK, TWIN LAKES, LEADVILLE, SILVERTON, TELLURIDE, DURANGO, ARAPAHOE BASIN, COPPER MOUNTAIN, LARKSPUR, STEAMBOAT, SAN LUIS, GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK, WINTER PARK, GRANBY, AND THE SPANISH PEAKS.
Stef and Chris were wed this past September up at the top of Granby Ranch Ski resort. Colorado can be tricky at times, we never know when the aspens and trees are going to start to change colors. On September 28th this past year, the entire mountainside was LIT UP with yellows and oranges lining views of the Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
We spent much of the early part of the day enjoying vista views, and trouncing through mountain bike trails. Stef was quite the bad ass bride, and even hiked a bit down a mounain slope to capture the sweeping views of James peak in the distance.
Hosting their ceremony at 9202 feet, all of their family and friends arrived to celebrate via chairlift. Being an avid snowboarder nearly my entire life, riding the chairlift up to the top of a mountain to photograph a wedding is one of my very favorite things about ski resort weddings. Granted, carrying gear adds a whole new dimension to getting off properly 🤪
To party the night away, everyone headed off the mountain for dancing, food, and drinks. When Stef and I talked about the timeline of their day, we noticed that toasts were slated to be right at sunset. Knowing that it was important to Stef and Chris to hang out with all their family and friends that came all the way out to Granby, we talked about forgoing sunset photos and hoping that the Milky Way would make an appearance. Our bet paid off… BIG time. We got a fantastic clear sky, and the opportunity to really capture a mountain Milky Way. It’s one of my favorite images from 2019.
Thanks, Stef and Chris, for inviting us to celebrate with your loved ones at Granby Ranch. Congratulations!!
PHOTOGRAPHING IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION, INCLUDING: KEYSTONE, ASPEN, BRECKENRIDGE, ESTES PARK, TWIN LAKES, LEADVILLE, SILVERTON, TELLURIDE, DURANGO, ARAPAHOE BASIN, COPPER MOUNTAIN, LARKSPUR, STEAMBOAT, SAN LUIS, GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK, WINTER PARK, GRANBY, AND THE SPANISH PEAKS.
Amber and Adam flew out from Minnesota to elope here in Colorado amongst the Rocky Mountains. We had discussed quite a few locations we could hike to, the logistics of each different spot, and the time it would take to hike to each one. After mulling it over, we picked a mountain near Grand Lake that would be a 9 mile summit (and that I’ve personally been wanting to hike for a LONG time!).
Hiking Elopements are an interesting thing here in Colorado. Sometimes, not everything goes as planned. Thunderstorms roll in, it snows in July, or as in this case, construction closes down the road to get to the trailhead.
One of the great things about being a Colorado native who is obsessed with the mountains, I backtracked and found us an awesome mountain with spectacular views that was still within a reasonable drive of Amber and Adam’s AirBnB. As the evening went on, it was clear that we were meant to climb this 13,081 ft. mountain on this day, August 20th.
We began our ascent for our 5.5 mile trek at around 4:00, hoping to catch an amazing sunset for their ceremony at the summit of the mountain. The weather was holding up nicely, and the scenery was absolutely amazing the entire hike up the mountain.
As we were making our way up to the summit, Amber and Adam told us some pretty crazy stories about their time in Colorado. In Amber’s words, they’re “Believers”. They had met a woman on the hike to Sky Pond the day prior, who randomly approached them. This woman let them know that she was expecting to see them, as she had a dream that the male would be carrying the female across a threshold during their time in Colorado. Mind you, this was before Amber and Adam let her know that they were here in Colorado to Elope. We knew, that at some point during their mountain top elopement, Adam would have to pick up his new wife.
The approach to the summit was rather mild, and we made it to the storm shelters just as the sky was starting to turn magical colors. Amber headed in one direction to change into her attire, and Adam the other. Once they saw one another and were ready to say their vows above 13,000 feet, I told them to find a rock that sung to their souls – and that’s where we’d have their ceremony at. I personally am a huge proponent of finding a piece of Earth that speaks to you – you find the spot, and I’ll adjust myself accordingly.
As Amber and Adam began to walk towards the West ever so slightly, they found an amazing rock that they decided was the spot where they’d say their vows to one another. Amber’s Pastor had also recorded a message for them to listen to once they were wed.
The sun began to set, making it’s way through a large block of clouds. Just after their ceremony and as the pastor’s message started to play, a HUGE cloud swooped up from behind all of us. In an instant, the wind picked up and swept this low hanging cloud over all of us and it flew out into the distance. Right as the sun peaked out, the mysterious cloud made it’s way in front of the sun – creating a perfect heart in the sky. It really, truly is hard to put into words the feeling we all had. We were clearly meant to be on that rock, on the mountain, at that exact time. I still get chills when I tell other people the story of the perfect heart in Amber and Adam’s photo.
Nightfall was fast approaching, and we had a decent hike ahead of us. We walked out into the amazing orange light, and began our decent down the mountain. It was quite the dark hike (with a few distant, terrifying booms in the distance) – but we made it down with no one being left to the mountain as a bear snack 🙃
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for inviting me to adventure along with you Amber and Adam. It was a wedding day that I’ll always remember very fondly. I wish you nothing but the best. And I REALLY, REALLY am hoping that you’re able to make it back out to Colorado so we can find some Wild Ice. 💙
Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer | Hiking Elopements across the Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Telluride | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray