love is snow and wispy white clouds of breath. love is tears and laughter and faith. love is story and grace. love is ellie + andrew.

January 20th, 2016

EA Blog-22

There are so many things that can be said about a wedding day, all of which are true and accurate portrayals of what takes place when two people embark upon their journey to forever. But like anything that gets said too frequently, the sentiments have become cliche, trite, expected, and Ellie + Andrew’s love story is none of those things. Ellie and Andrew have written the pages of their stories throughout the whole of their lives; the years begin and end like chapters, paragraphs punctuated by fleeting moments of joy or sorrow, laughter or tears, friends and lovers made, lost.

And then, each other.

A wedding is both a beginning and an end. It’s the lighthouse – a beacon set on a stony shore to guide us safely home, and the ship – the hull filled with memories, visible scars of childhood and hidden ones of growing up, learning lessons, becoming wiser. It’s everything and nothing all at once.  It’s every ounce of who we were and what we have become walking towards a future of all we are yet to be and everything we do not know.

A wedding, like life, is a constant flow of beginnings and endings rolling, repeating,
like waves crashing ashore.

And again.

This was Ellie + Andrew’s wintery, wonderful, wedding day:

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Shout out to my amazing second shooter and all-around-gal-pal Kelsea for – yet again – being my eyes in all the places I couldn’t be. My weddings wouldn’t be the same without you and I’m honored to have you by my side again and again. Ellie, you’re a dream. I adore you (but you know that already) and am so thankful to you and Andrew and your families for welcoming me so completely into your story, your family, your hearts. I couldn’t do any of this without you. <3



on love and life and stories and hope. remembering two thousand fifteen.

December 29th, 2015

2015 Best Of - Athena Pelton001

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Thousands of images.
Three hundred sixty five days.
Dozens of Stories.
Fifty Two weeks.
Fourteen weddings.
Twelve months.
Eight states.
One year.

Holy shit it’s been a whirlwind year. They say (whoever “they” are) that you should do something every day that scares you – so today that thing is going to be talking about my accomplishments. I’m terrible at self-promotion but I’m going to give it an honest-to-goodness go. Gulp.

In August I hosted my first workshop, Write Your Life, and am working on launching my second. Three days later I lost my corporate job and was catapulted head first into legitimate, scary-as-f*ck, self-employment, though it is a position I should have chosen for myself ages ago. This fall I was asked to hand letter a magazine cover for Minnesota Monthly and the beautiful Lucia at Utterly Engaged tasked me with writing an article on finding intimacy in portraiture which turned into an article offering advice for those booking a wedding photographer who want more than posed, perfect portraits. As the current year draws to a close and the new one breaks on the horizon, I find myself ready for whatever 2016 has to offer. What new things my camera – my heart – will gaze upon and document. I look forward to celebrating  joy and love and promise and hope on mountains and in breweries, in fields and forests and wherever else work takes me in the months to come. It’s time for me to make more images for myself – to shoot more on film and less on my iPhone. I’m ready for more editorial work and am confident that 2016 will allow me to make images for brands that look, sound, and feel precisely like life. I’m beyond excited to be expanding my travel portfolio (yay adventure!) and photographing people in places I’ve never been.

As I attempt to eloquently articulate my feelings on the past year, I find myself lost in thought. I’m swimming in the sounds of laughter and dancing, newborn baby cries and children playing in soft summer fields, rushing water and chilled beer bottles clanged together in reverie. Cicadas at sundown and music turned up to eleven, the hum of generators and plodding rhythms of dizzy feet punctuating the memorized beat of love songs and party songs and lets-dance-until-we-can’t-stand-anymore songs. I can still taste the summer breezes as they blew across the river, across Lake Superior, through tents and trees and off the sweat-shiny shoulders of brides as they turn their heads back toward me and my camera, eyes excited and mesmerized by pure joy.

Making images that matter for people who invite me so wholly, completely, irrevocably into their stories is the most rewarding, wonderful, fulfilling, every-overused-cliche-adjective-ever job. Though I absolutely work my ass off, picking up my camera has never once felt like work. It’s quite the opposite rather, and it never ceases to amaze me how fortunate I am to be able to make a living doing the very thing that makes me come alive. As such, it’s impossible to me that I can even begin to summarize my year in a handful of images (read: entirely too many because I couldn’t possibly narrow this down any further), and yet, here we are. At the end of another year, another season, another miraculous and harrowing and scary, crazy, sad, beautiful trip around the sun.

Here are a few of my favorite images from this year (in no particular order). An immeasurable amount of gratitude belongs to those of you who chose me, who trusted me, who invited me along and invited me in. 

Thank you.

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love is farmhouses and forests and flowers. love is home and hearty laughter and hands clasped together. love is natasha and joel’s wedding day.

November 30th, 2015


Natasha and Joel were married on a hot July day in southern Minnesota in Joel’s parents backyard. Natasha, an incredibly talented floral designer, made nearly everything herself and transformed Joel’s parents land into a beautiful and perfect wedding venue. Since their wedding day, Natasha has become a good friend of mine and I couldn’t feel more grateful to have been beside her on her wedding day, as she married the love of her life. Joel doesn’t just make her happy, he makes her beam. When she’s next to him she glows from within – and it’s a sight to behold. Here is how I saw their wedding story – what it felt like on that sticky summer day as two people walked together into the beginning of their forever: