Photos for people who have pollen in love

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Photography

I spent 12 years photographing weddings full time while also educating photographers about business and marketing. It was an amazing experience. 

I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities being a photographer gave me in the business and marketing space. I’ve been exposed to non-traditional weddings, cultural traditions, and people I never would have met without being a photographer. Photography has made me a better person because of those experiences, but I always knew I didn’t want to spend every weekend away from my family documenting other people’s families until I retired. 

As I moved into the marketing space in edtech I was able to take one of the things I loved most into a world where I can enjoy weekends with family and friends again and I am excited to move out of the photography space.

While I’m beginning to close this chapter of life, I do not want the clients who have already booked me to feel they aren’t an important priority. They are. Through 2022 I’m excited to be working with many amazing new clients.

For future clients who would love to work together - I am still accepting bookings and am prioritizing clients who feel a strong call for us to work together. I am limiting my available dates so I can spend time with family. Please inquire to see if I am available for your date if you feel strongly that I am the right photographer for your event. 

For past clients who will continue to want family photography - Without you I wouldn’t be where I am today, so please know I will always do my best to make time to continue to document your families as they grow and change.

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Photography too?

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Pricing »

Portfolio »

Mission Statement »

FAQ »

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My 5 Core Values:

Media in the world, and especially wedding media, normalizes being white, thin, cisgender and heterosexual. It considers anything else ‘other.’ I believe as a photographer that I have a unique power as an image creator to help re-define what’s considered normal by creating and representing people from marginalized communities in my work. Wedding media does not accurately reflect the diverse people getting married and I hope to have the opportunity to change that narrative and ensure that marginalized communities have visual representation and a voice through my work.

1. Visual Representation

I believe human beings have personal autonomy over their own bodies and therefore seek to celebrate all the unique ways people celebrate and live in their bodies. My commitment to bodily integrity extends into the way I process and edit my work. I edit images for things like color correction and exposure, but will not do extensive retouching. I believe changing your body shape and similar types of over-processing are unethical. When a photographer creates unrealistic physical changes to someone’s body, they project their own biases of what they think someone ‘should’ look like onto that person. I want my business to be a place of body acceptance and love as much as possible. I also believe everyone struggles with confidence in their body and I am always understanding of that. That said, if you have a giant zit - I’m going to edit that crap out. I’m an epic digital pimple popper.

2. Bodily Integrity 

It’s best defined as a problematic power dynamic where members of a dominant group or culture (who have privilege) take elements from a culture of people who are marginalized or oppressed by the dominant culture. Cultural appropriation is widespread in photography and it does a lot of damage by letting us show love for a culture, but remain prejudiced against its people. When members of a dominant culture utilize traditions, tools, and rituals from an oppressed culture in their wedding it furthers problems of falsehoods, stereotyping and systemic racism - especially when published online, where stories are often misunderstood. As such, I do not photograph weddings with things like teepees, dreamcatchers, jumping the broom, henna, and other cultural aspects unless my clients are from those cultures. By doing this, when a client’s story is published online - the true owner of a cultural tradition or ritual is the one whose voice is being heard and I’m prioritizing justice for marginalized groups over my own dominant culture’s privilege. 

3. Cultural Appropriation 

Photography is about storytelling and one of my core values is to not manufacture poses and photo opportunities for the sake of the pose or opportunity. I want to photograph your wedding as if it’s unfolding in a documentary way. By doing this we focus on your candid moments laughing with family or creating meaningful memories. When we stop and pull out Pinterest boards to copy a cool image set up we see, we are manufacturing a moment that’s not truly happening. I believe you should just enjoy your wedding day and let those moments happen naturally in a way that feels authentic to be documented. Let’s not create images for the sake of pretty images. Let’s create images that will make you cry, laugh, and give you the feels for the next 50 years. 

4. Creating Photos with Meaning 

Autonomy is defined as being free from external control. The wedding world often makes my clients feel like they’re doing things wrong, when they break from tradition for any reason. Sometimes it’s a wedding vendor that makes you feel guilty for not wanting the latest fashionable thing. Sometimes it’s a family member who thinks the way you want to celebrate is wrong. One of my core values is your autonomy over your wedding day. I always provide clients with lots of tips, resources and tools since I’ve been to hundreds of weddings, but this day is yours. I’m here to be an ally for however you want to celebrate. The wedding world might always tell you to do things one way, but I believe weddings are the best when you do things however you want. 

5. Wedding Autonomy 

Carrie Swails Photography was created out of a need to ensure nerds, offbeat, and non-traditional people like me felt represented in the wedding industry.. I believe in weddings where people prioritize the fact they are getting married. Weddings don’t need a theme - isn’t the theme marriage?! I also believe in weddings that prioritize each person’s individual personality and find ways to incorporate their passions for nerdy things, the outdoors or whatever it is they’re passionate about. A wedding should be a reflection of the personalities of the people getting married. Weddings that throw tradition out the window and own doing it their way are my jam.

I know there is a distinct lack of visual representation in the wedding industry of anyone who is perceived as not what society normalizes. I commit to re-defining normal as diverse and inclusive through my photography as much as I can. I not only welcome, but celebrate (very enthusiastically) any client who has a hard time finding people who look like them or live like them in media in today’s society. What once started as a mission to represent non-traditional weddings became one that believes you shouldn't have to put 'LGBTQ+' or 'same-sex' in front of the word wedding to find equality online. I believe Black Lives Matter. I commit to prioritizing inclusion and racial justice both in business and outside of it.

Carrie Swails Photography is a business that commits to being a safe space and seeks to include and advocate for all identities and cultures within its wedding photography and engagement services. Wedding photography services are based in Colorado and serve couples in Grand Junction, Ouray, Steamboat Springs, Denver and anywhere clients want to take me to celebrate their own authentic and unique weddings.

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the mission statement

Diversity & Inclusion are a priority.

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Frequently  asked questions

1. How long until I get the photos?

My contract guarantees a 2-3 week turnaround. However that lengthy time is just in case of an emergency. Clients typically receive their photos in 7-14 days after their wedding.

2. Do I get all the photos? How many photos do I get?

I cull out test shots and duplicates or anything that would waste your time. I do like to include as many photos as I can, even ones that aren't my personal favorites because I know those shots tell the story of your wedding day. I love to include bloopers. A typical wedding ends up with about 75-100 per hour, which is more than one photo per minute. A typical portrait session may result in approximately 60-75 images.

3. Do you have insurance?

I do! If you need a copy for your wedding venue, just let me know!

4. What gear do you use? Do you have backups?

I have an arsenal of professional Fuji mirrorless camera bodies, lenses, and accessories. I have backups for my backups. The gear is just a tool and isn't as integral to great imagery as the person using it. 

5. My wedding is not mainstream. Is that ok?

I believe that what we see in mainstream wedding media is not inclusive of the diverse people actually getting married. I specialize in weddings that are not mainstream. I have photographed many weddings with diverse skin tones, plus size bodies, polyamorous celebrations, alternative spiritualities, gender identities and more. Your non-mainstream wedding is not only welcome here, but celebrated! I hope I get to help be an advocate for you through the wedding process. 

6. Are you comfortable shooting in dark areas or with flash?

Absolutely! Using flash is one of my favorite things. I have an arsenal of flashes and accessories to make some kickass images during your wedding reception. If you're up for it I always love setting up an epic night shot toward the end of the evening with just my clients. If you give me an extra 15 minutes we can make some magic happen!

7. Where are you located?

I live in the mountains of Colorado in a very small remote town. I photograph weddings and portrait sessions in Denver, Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction, Vail, Ouray, Crested Butte, Aspen, Glenwood Springs and anywhere in the State of Colorado. My prices are the same no matter where you're celebrating or photographing in state...or if you celebrate in Moab, Utah.

8. Can my uncle/cousin/friend take photos too?

Sure! As long as your photography-loving guests don't mind me having priority over all the must have shots. As your paid photographer, I don’t allow you to hire other photography companies (video is totally fine of course). It’s difficult for me to have to compete with another photography company who may not work the same way I do. It’s also important I get to prioritize having the spot for all the best angles and direction over the day if you have guests or friends bringing their cameras. The only time strictly I keep the photography to myself is when we take photos of just you, the clients, alone. That way I can work my magic without interruption. 

9. Do you offer prints or digital files?

I offer both. Digitals are always included in my base prices because I understand the value of having them. However, prints are equally as important. Your prints and albums are the things that you share sitting at grandma's kitchen table as you hear stories. Canvases are for displaying your photos in your home and celebrating all those most important memories by enjoying them every day when you walk past. I see a lot of value in both. I offer a variety of prints, canvases and album options for my clients so they can have something tangible to walk away with and pass on for generations.

10. Who is your second shooter?

My second shooter may vary at weddings depending on who is available. I work with a small local group of equally talented wedding photographers who all know my business inside and out. I promise my second shooter is always just as awesome as me.

11. What are your prices?

You can find my current pricing available online. 

12. How do I book?

To reserve your wedding date I take a retainer of 50% of your total booking. The remainder is due by the wedding date. To reserve your portrait session you pay in full when you book your date. When you're ready to book I take care of all payments and the signing of your contract online. 

13. I have a Pinterest board full of poses I like, can we copy them at my wedding?

We could, but then we're spending the majority of your time manufacturing wedding moments instead of actually living them. It's important to me that you get to live in the moment during your wedding and celebrate with all your friends and family. Instead of copying images from Pinterest I want you to focus on living it up on your wedding day while I'm there to capture all those candid moments and memories as they happen. Relationships with my clients are integral to my work. The more you trust me, the more creative I'm able to be while taking photos. The more creative I am, the more epic the photos will be. Instead of copying other people's epic photos, we'll create a new set together that everyone else will be wanting to copy at their weddings! ;)

14. Do you offer discounts?

As a former third-grade teacher, I know how hard it is to provide for your own family and fulfill all of the needs of your students at the same time. We do things like buy our students clothing and food in addition to our own classroom supplies...and more! Fellow teachers just send me an email from your work email to qualify for a discount!

15. Can you do a black and white photo and make just my shoes, flowers, or eyeballs in color?

Nope. It's ugly. You want your photos to look timeless.

16. Why won’t you shoot my wedding with teepees, dreamcatchers, henna tattoos, jumping the broom or other hip trendy cultural things?

If you’re a member of a dominant group/race/culture taking cultural traditions or rituals from a culture that’s oppressed and marginalized - that’s what we call cultural appropriation. It can be a pretty damaging thing for that marginalized culture when dominant cultures take from their sacred traditions. It does all kinds of yucky things like perpetuate stereotypes, falsehoods, and can even further systemic racism. If you are a member of a marginalized/oppressed community or culture and you are using your own cultural traditions - then it’s a totally different story! I love using my platform to help showcase accurate representations of a culture and bring those stories and voices alive directly from those who live it every day.

17. Do I own the copyright to my photos?

As the photographer I retain the copyright, but all my clients get personal use rights to print and share their digital images on their own as much as they'd like.

18. What happens in an emergency?

I'm lucky to be close with other wedding photographers in the industry. When something happens to one of us we all pitch in to ensure our clients are always collectively taken care of. Should something happen to me one of them would step in and they're of equal quality (if not more awesome) than me. That said, being a wedding photographer is not a business where we get sick days. If you choose not to book a second shooter, but I became ill and didn't feel I could give it my best, I would bring a second shooter on me to ensure you received the experience you deserved on your wedding day.

19. Do you travel for weddings?

Always! I've photographed weddings all over the US including Disney World Florida, Lake Tahoe, California, Seattle, Arizona, South Dakota, New York, Utah, and Hilton Head South Carolina. My prices listed include travel anywhere in the state of Colorado or to Salt Lake City and Moab, Utah. There is an additional fee for anywhere outside of these locations. 

20. Does your husband really make the best guacamole in the world?

Yes. The recipe IS ON MY BLOG. We are generously sharing it with the world because life wouldn't be complete without it.