Adventure to Merry Go Round

Sedona, Arizona’s top engagement session location

THIS spot…it’s one of my favorites in not only Arizona but Sedona specifically, but it’s not an easy place to get to. Many many photographers dream about shooting here but you have to have the right off roading vehicle to get up. For example: a Rubicon Jeep, truck with high suspension, or a Forerunner with big ass wheels!! Rental car companies won’t let you take their cars out there because the road is so bad that many get stuck or end up with a flat tire. I highly highly suggest going with a company like Pink Jeep Tours or Red Rock Rubicon. These vehicles are made to go on roads like this!

I’m so happy Anna and Selam wanted to go dance in the sun and explore the cliffs of the Red Rocks when they were visiting Arizona. I grew up with Anna in Ohio and was SO excited for when she told me they wanted to fly out for their engagement session. Now this is my fifth friend to come out to Arizona from the midwest for their photos. And I think it gives them a good excuse for a vacation and I get to see my people, so I’m not mad about it!!

Sedona Engagement Session

Back lit sun flare shot how to

One of my VERY favorite engagement sessions in the Sedona Red Rocks. Kirk + Sarah flew in from North Carolina and it was one of the most perfect Sedona days. Sunshiney, not busy at all, and a little breezy!! I’m obsessed with chasing the sunshine.

Shooting into the sun can be hard but SO WORTH IT. Here are some tips on shooting into the sun to get sun flares.

  • Wait until the sun is low- about 20 mins before it sets. That’s when you can get the really golden color
  • My 35 or 50mm seem to be some of my only lenses that create that really pretty sun flare. The fixed lens tend to be better for this
  • I use my couple to block the sun but play with it in the ladies hair or between them. Movement is really fun here so you can the sunshine look but also not just portrait look
  • You need something to block the sun or defuse it behind trees so the light isn’t so blinding
  • I am usually really open at f/1.4-f/2.5 and my shutter tends to be exposed right in the middle. A little bit more over exposed so they are bright and not in the shadows
  • Then play around!! Your eyes might hurt because you are looking into the sunshine but it’s so worth it!

Ditch the Big Wedding and Go Elope

Sedona, Arizona Elopement in the red rocks

Big weddings are an amazing experience for family and friends but if you are wanting to a smaller gathering of only immediate family or just you two, go for an elopement!! These are getting more and more popular as the years go on, especially with COVID shutting down big weddings in 2020. I had SO many fun small elopements in Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend this year that really made my couples happy by going small rather than a big wedding.

Here are some benefits on having a small intimate elopement instead of a big wedding:

  • Save so much money!!! Weddings are expensive but when you cut the guest list rom 200 to 2-10 it really really helps you save money for a house or a fun honeymoon.
  • Spend more money on a dress you are in love with!!
  • Hike to a hidden remote location that is beautiful and memorable
  • Have the best food because it’s only going to be a few plates rather than 200. Go all out! Get steak and shrimp!
  • Less stress more fun!!!!

Cara + Mark was suppose to have a destination wedding in Mexico but due to covid they decided to just get eloped!! With the dress she was going to be on the beach with for rehearsal dinner they eloped in the red rocks!! It was the perfect little ceremony with just family in a beautiful location. It was exactly what they wanted.

Flagstaff Elopement Locations

How to plan an elopement in Flagstaff, Arizona

Having an elopement is the best next thing to do currently. Now that this global pandemic is in full swing and probably not going anywhere anytime soon (sad tears) we must learn how to make lemonade out of lemons! For a lot of my couples they have had to change their wedding dates multiple times due to covid. But also a lot of them have decided to have an elopement in a beautiful location with minimal people. Due to states having restrictions anywhere from 3-10 guests are perfect for a small intimate elopement. 

I MEAN have you ever been a more beautiful cute little town as Flagstaff. Located in Northern Arizona, Flagstaff is home to the San Fransisco Peaks, magical aspen forests, and an historical downtown filled with shops and restaurants. With Flagstaff and it’s surrounding area containing the worlds largest ponderosa pine forest, there are endless possibilities for elopement locations. Sedona and her red rocks are usually a very sought after location for elopements along with the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, but what people don’t know is the beauty Flagstaff has to offer for mountain forest elopement vibes galore. 

Here are some ideas on how to plan a Flagstaff elopement. Everything from locations, officiants, florals, and dinner locations after. 

Locations:

Lockett Meadow

I love love love this location in Flagstaff. It’s only open during April-October and closed during winter months due to a really rocky road!! This is my favorite location to take people to during the fall because of the mountain views and fall colors. They are incredible! Big open field to choose to have an elopement. Or you could choose to be in the aspen groves surrounded around those beautiful trees swaying in the wind.

Hart Prairie 

I have never shot an actual wedding at this location, even though I want to so bad!!! I’ve only shot a bunch of engagement sessions. But as you can see from the images below there are options! You could get married in the aspen groves, in the tall swaying grass, or on top of a mesa with the mountain view in the background. Also, the sunset here is my favorite!!

Snowbowl

Flagstaff resides next to a huge mountain called Humphrey’s Peak. Snowbowl is the ski resort on the mountain. With these beautiful views of the valley below, Snowbowl offers incredible views, aspens, mountain shots, and the sunset!! It’s incredible. Only 35 min drive from downtown.

Edge of the World

This location I was hesitant to put out into the world because it’s my personal favorite camping location. I won’t tell you how to get there unless we book but it’s truly magical. About 60 min drive from town on a dirt road, you’ll get to Edge of the World that overlooks Sedona. There are many different locations and paths to get to the edge and I have the best ones saved. It’s breath taking.

Florals:

Officiants:

Jen Paul from Life Passages (amazingggg!)

Hair + Makeup:

Dinner spots:

Where to stay:

Planning:

Jane in the Woods planning

Email me with any questions you have concerning locations, vendors, or where to stay! I’m here for you! I hope planning a wedding in the beautiful mountains of Flagstaff will encourage you to hike, explore, and fall in love with Arizona.

xoxo-Han

Flagstaff Best Wedding Venues

Flagstaff Wedding Photographers

Flagstaff is nestled at 7,000 ft high in the largest ponderosa pine tree forest in the country. Many couples get married here every year but there are really only a few top wedding venues in this town. You could do the classic hippie Flagstaff thing by getting married in the middle of the forest but it’s not as easy as one would think. Thankfully, there are six great venues here in Flagstaff that provide mountain views, forest access, and beautiful buildings to host a wedding. 

1.The Sycamore Venue Flagstaff 

I love love love this new venue in town!! It’s bright, white wood, and has mountain views! That is a first for Flagstaff. It’s a big white barn that has so many options for your wedding day. Inside ceremony options but I am drawn most to the outside location with a few of the peaks for ceremony. Located on the East side of Flagstaff about 20 mins from downtown it’s not a far drive to get this amazing venue.

https://www.facebook.com/sycamorevenue/

2.The Arboretum at Flagstaff 

The Arboretum at Flagstaff is a lovelyyyy beautiful option for a wedding. It has lush green grass, flowers and plants everywhere, and pine trees scattered for the classic mountains look. The ceremony option has an amazing view of the mountain with large vast landscape behind it. For reception there is only the option for a tent or just out under the trees. But I promise it’s so good!!!

https://thearb.org/calendarofevents/weddings/

3.Forest Highlands

For more of the classy look, Forest Highlands, has the option for a few different locations to have weddings on their site. Depending on what time of year there are options to have your wedding on the course with a view of the peaks or inside if it’s too cold! The clubhouses are designed really well with a bright clean look that can host many many guests!

https://fhgc.com/weddings/?keyword=forest%20highlands%20wedding&creative=233404520844&gclid=CjwKCAiA6aSABhApEiwA6Cbm_7ZpGJuajxfmcYZVMJJwH8x_4BBCiQV9zp4pqm_-hTxByyqlzX0vWxoC-HIQAvD_BwE

4.Aldea Weddings

This is also a new venue in Flagstaff! Just 15 minutes from downtown, Aldea Weddings offer the lodge pine trees forest look that is hard to come by. With a big deck for reception outside you are in the pine trees all day! Their modern look inside offers getting ready rooms and good entrance options for your guests. Excited about this new venue!

http://www.aldeaweddings.com/flagstaff

5.The Gardens at Viola’s

If you want flowers galore look no further than Viola’s Flower Garden in Flagstaff!! With indoor and outdoor options, this venue can offer a variety for your wedding day. You don’t even need that much decor when the venue already looks THIS good with an abundance of flowers.

https://www.flagstaffweddingvenue.com/

6.The Nordic Village

This venue is truly in the woods! Located about 30-40 minutes from downtown Flagstaff, Nordic Village is ALL about the forest. The ceremony location is in the woods, the tent is in the woods, everything is in the woods!! With beautiful aspen trees close to you get a variety look with white tree trunks and pine trees. You really feel like you are in the woods at this venue!

https://arizonanordicvillage.com/experience/weddings-events/

No matter what venue you go for here, you will love the options Flagstaff has to offer for wedding days. Reach out if you have any questions! [email protected]

Xo-Hannah Rose Gray

Business Portrait Project

Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona

I love this town. I love everything about Flagstaff. From the adventures of skiing and hiking you can have on the San Francisco Peaks , to the swaying green aspen trees that light up the town in the fall, to epic monsoon seasons in the summer, Flagstaff has it all. But more than just the beautiful scenery, it’s home to some of the kindest people you will meet in this country. No matter what grocery store you enter, restaurant you sit down at, or little boutique you wander into, you will find friendly kind faces.

Downtown Flagstaff is the heart beat of this town. The businesses that have resided for generations are still standing and can speak to the testament of change this town has seen over the years. New buildings are going up and more people are moving in but what hasn’t changed are the historic downtown buildings that were made from the red sandstone (Moenkopi Formation) that was once quarried in the town in the late 1800’s.

During this pandemic I wanted to document what it means to be human right now and what it means to be a business owner in a small town that thrives in the summer on tourism. I photographed 15 downtown businesses to display the buildings that house the creativity and life flowing through our town. The buildings matter just as much as the people because they speak to the strength this town is built on despite the constant change over the years. Change is never comfortable but it’s needed. Change is what the planet does every second of everyday. This town has seen many changes from wildfires that threaten to burn down the town to influx of people moving to this tiny part of Arizona. Yet, these buildings have stood tall and strong, un wavered by the constant change around them.

I asked to photograph the business owners and employees who are continuing to fight during quarantine to keep their shops open. They are strong individuals who all have hope for the future. Not one questioned or hinted at shutting down rather, they all collectively have this spirit of positivity. I asked them a few questions relating to how their business have been affected by COVID and how has their why been brought back to life through this season. Their responses speak of strength and hope during this unknown season we all find ourselves in.

Read the article FlagLive wrote on my photo project here.