Michael Franti & Spearhead



If you've never been to a Michael Franti show do yourself a favor and GO!
I had an incredible experience photographing the band this past summer. I can't say much more...check out the photos -- I'll let them speak for themselves!







New Study: Solitary Confinement Overused in Colorado

From: SolitaryWatch:
November 18, 2011
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

A new report on solitary confinement in Colorado’s state prisons concluded that there are far too many inmates in round-the-clock lockdown. A series of relatively modest changes in its classification, review, and mental health treatment practices would “significantly reduce” the number of prisoners in administrative segregation, the report found. The report was funded by the National Institute of Corrections, and its authors, James Austin and Emmitt Sparkman, were involved in the dramatic reduction of solitary confinement in Mississippi’s prisons.

Alan Prendergast, who has spent more than a decade reporting on Colorado prisons for Denver’s weekly Westword, reviewed the report and provided the following summary:

A study by researchers at the National Institute of Corrections has found that Colorado’s approach to locking down its most unruly prisoners in 23-hour-a-day isolation is “basically sound” — but could be used a lot less. Instead, even as the state’s prison population is declining slightly, the use of “administrative segregation,” or solitary confinement, continues to increase.

The Colorado Department of Corrections houses close to 1,500 prisoners in “ad-seg,” about 7 percent of the entire state prison population. That’s significantly above the national average of 2 percent or less — and if you factor in the additional 670 prisoners who are in “punitive segregation” as a result of disciplinary actions, the CDOC figure is closer to 10 percent. And four out of ten of the prisoners in solitary have a diagnosed mental illness, roughly double the proportion in 1999. The state’s heavy reliance on ad-seg, including building a second supermax prison to house the overload, has put Colorado in the center of a growing national controversy over whether isolating prisoners creates more problems in the long run.

NIC researchers James Austin and Emmitt Sparkman were invited by DOC to prepare an external review of its ad-seg policies and classification system. Among other points, the pair found that the decision to send prisoners to lockdown has little review by headquarters; that “there is considerable confusion in the operational memorandums and regulations on how the administrative segregation units are to function;” that the average length of stay in isolation is about two years; and that 40 percent of the ad-seg prisoners are released directly to the community from lockdown, with no time spent in general population first.

Austin and Sparkman urge the DOC to require a mental health review before a prisoner is placed in ad-seg and to simplify the programs and phases inmates are required to complete before returning to a less restrictive prison. Even modest administrative changes would “significantly reduce” the state’s lockdown population, they claim, freeing up cells for other uses and saving the state money, since supermax prisons are more costly to operate than lower-security facilities.

For more on solitary confinement in Colorado, read our article Fortresses of Solitude.

Lany & Brett : : Fort Collins, Colorado


Instead of hearing what I have to say about Lany and Brett's wedding day, I decided to try something a little more interesting and insightful -- from the perspective of the bride and groom themselves. I came up with a few questions and asked them to write as little or as much as they wanted...they took to the task wonderfully and reflected upon the day.

Check out their favorite photos from the day and why they choose them at the end of this post.

A little background about Lany and Brett's idea for implementing their hockey theme: they really liked the idea of interesting, hockey-based portraits as part of their photos. After pondering over the idea, I asked them how willing they were to experiment. To my delight, they whole-heartedly agreed to a short series of conceptually-based photos illustrating a storyline of them battling it out in the rink. We narrowed down the ideas and managed to pull 5 of them off in the short time we had before the start of the ceremony (only 30mins!!). I can't express the fun we had pulling everything together to make it happen...:)

Many thanks to Don Hajicek and Jeremy Hochhalter for their awesome assistance!



How did you meet?

We both ended up signing up for a co-ed hockey tournament in Sheridan, WY. When we were down there, we really hit it off, and spent most of the tournament talking and getting to know each other. One night Brett even invited me to come hang out after they had kicked us out of the hot tub, but I turned him down because I was tired -- only to come knocking on his room door 5 minutes later. At the end, Brett asked for my phone number, and called me the very next day. He even texted me that night to say it was nice to meet me, but I never texted me back (he would come to find out that my phone was broken, and my texts rarely, if ever, came through). We went out a day later, and have been inseparable since

How did you propose?

When I decided to propose, it seemed only fitting that I propose at a hockey game, since that is where we spend a lot of our time, and where we met. Lany and I played over the summer 2010 in a co-ed hockey league in Windsor, so I convinced Lany to take the opening face-off for "the game." I waited until we played a team that had some of our good friends on it (and one of the referees was a good friend as well), and got Jeremy (who introduced us) to take the face-off against Lany. While she was getting ready for the face-off, I started our song ("Stand by Me" by Playing for Change) on the PA system, and got the ring ready, and skated up behind Lany. She didn't realize what was going on for what felt like forever, as she was very involved in taking the face-off. When she finally realized I was asking her to marry me, she got very excited... and tried to kiss me... but her face-mask was still on! Oops. Once we kissed, she decided to take a "victory lap," except she lost an edge behind the net, and careened in to the boards. Then very daintily skated back to the bench. We played the rest of the game, we both scored a goal, and then we got to BBQ with our friends and family after the game to celebrate. I was even able to get her mom, brother, and sister-in-law to come up to be there. Unfortunately her Dad was stuck in Durango, due to the night of the proposal being moved up 2 weeks due to a scheduling error from the Hockey League.


What was your theme/style?

We decided that since hockey was involved in us meeting, and hockey was involved in our proposal as well, that having it involved in the wedding was a fitting choice. So when we met with our wedding planner for the first time (Kate with Green Apple weddings), we described our theme as: "hockey themed, but classy, not tacky" -- So we tried to add hockey in to our ceremony and our decorations in various ways, while still having a beautiful, elegant event. We knew from the beginning we wanted an outdoor wedding, so we found a city-run garden with lots of space for people to feel comfortable walking around and enjoying themselves, without feeling pressure to drink or dance if they didn't want to.



Dress/shoes/jewelry details?

Dress was an Allure, sweetheart neckline with lots of sparkles, beading, and tulle. Shoes were actually already purchased long beforehand. Our proudest accessories were our hats. Lany's hat was her "reception party hat," and was created by Etsy seller Lady Lygeia (who also created the fascinator she wore for the ceremony). Brett wore an Optimo Fine Hat, which he has now been starting to wear as a common accessory to his wardrobe. Lany also wore a pearl necklace with a claddagh pendant (she also has a claddagh tattoo on her back and wears a claddagh ring on her right hand -- it's the Irish symbol for Love, Loyalty, and Friendship)



Hair and makeup?

Hair was done by Janae with Europa Salon, and makeup done by Barbara Fisher, a local make-up artist. Both of them did a great job, and we would highly recommend them. Janae did a great job of finding a good balance of creating an up-do that looked very pretty, without being "over the top" (My normal version of doing my hair is straightening it, or putting it in a pony-tail, so anything too fancy would have just looked weird.)

Flowers and cake?

Flowers were done by Linda with Finishing Touches -- Linda created a beautiful blend of starfighter lilies, dyed-blue singapore orchids, burgundy roses, Fiddle-Fern Fronds, and Ivy -- They were absolutely spectacular! The cake was done by Schmidt's Bakery -- Pumpkin Caramel, German Chocolate, and Raspberry-Almond-Poppyseed. It was, of course, all decked out in skates, mini-pucks, and, of course, a Stanley Cup cake topper!


Where did you have your rings made (any significance behind your style choice)?

Darvier Custom Jewelers created our rings. We used Brett's Grandmothers engagement ring/wedding band/diamond in the designs, which are amazing. Brett's band has meteorite in the center, with alternating bands of titanium and yellow gold. Lany's ring is a tension-set band (where the diamond actually sets in the band without braces or prongs) in titanium, with a tri-gold mokume inlay. We wanted something really unique, and Darvier was extremely amazing throughout the process of designing our rings.


Location of ceremony?

Gardens on Spring Creek -- This venue was a city-run facility. It had a ton of space, and had seperate areas we could use for the ceremony and the reception. We loved that it had an outdoor kitchen where people could watch the food being finished in front of them. It also had lots of space for people to roam around, and we really tried to create an atmosphere where people didn't feel like they had to sit in their seats and wait for us to "do something" -- We used high-top tables to create a feeling of, "Please walk around and enjoy yourself," but also made room around the dance floor for people to dance and be merry if they wanted to be. We really enjoyed the way our ceremony came out, too -- We ended up re-creating our entire thing about a month before the wedding to make a place for a reading that was very close to our hearts, but that the officiant didn't feel comfortable reading. When we had originally created the ceremony, we put in readings that we really liked, and we were happy with. But as it got closer, we realized those readings didn't speak to us from the heart. So, we decided to have people closest to us give a speech during the ceremony. We requested that each person write an approximately 2-minute speech, and that they send it directly to the officiant - We didn't want to hear any of them before the ceremony. So Chris spoke on behalf of the groomsmen, Tiffani spoke on behalf of the bridesmaids, Brett's mom, Joy, spoke on behalf of the parents, and our good friend Jeremy Fusco (who introduced us, via setting up the tournament we met at, and has been a great friend of our ever since) gave a reading as well. We requested that Jeremy read a piece about human beings being split in half, and forever looking for the other part of their soul (originally by Plato). It was amazing to get to hear all their stories for the first time while we were standing up there. We also wrote our own vows, and didn't share them until we read them to each other at the wedding.


Groomsmen and Bridesmaids (how did you make your choices)?

Our groomsmen were Brett's 2 Best Friends Chris and Chip (he's known them for about 15 years now), and each of our brothers (Scott - Brett's brother, and Colin - Lany's brother). We wanted to keep the Bridal Party small, as we wanted the people who were standing up there with us to be our absolute nearest and dearest (and we didn't want to try to wrangle too many people when it came to planning wedding events!). The bridesmaids were Tiffani (Lany's best friend since high school), Catie (another one of Lany's best friends from high school), Sara (Lany's sister-in-law), and Becky (Lany's close friend and co-worker).


What did you do for your honeymoon?

We actually haven't taken a honeymoon yet -- We decided to spread out the "wedded bliss", so we made it through all the wedding craziness, and then took a few days and went up to Steamboat, where we relaxed, ate food, and reveled in the simple joy of not having to make any decisions more complicated than, "Are you hungry?" and, "Where do you want to eat?" -- I really can't imagine trying to plan all the crazy, hectic wedding stuff, AND planning an oversees vacation at the same time, but a few days away to rest and relax was definitely an amazing choice! We're hoping to go to Europe in May for our "real" honeymoon.

Most memorable moment of the day?

Brett: When Lany was walking down the stairs for our first-look photos, I was incredibly nervous (like... panic-attacky, hyperventilating nervous). As soon as I saw Lany come around the corner, and I got to see her and speak to her, all of the nerves just seemed to melt away. I don't know if I've ever felt anything quite like that before, with such an intense build-up to an almost immediate relief washing over me. Once we got the first-look photos completed, it all seemed easy.
Lany: There were so many amazing moments that stick out throughout the day, it's hard to narrow it down. Seeing Brett's nervousness when we met for the first look photos, and then feeling the almost palpable release as we moved from those to our on-the-Ice shots. I loved the feeling of getting my ice skates on, and taking a few ordinary passes with Brett -- the feeling of being in the ice rink with a strapless dress on and not being cold... walking down the aisle in the sunshine, and seeing these waves of faces of all the people I love most in the world coming together, just to support our vow to love each other.... and then hearing our family members speak on our behalf.... The ceremony and the lead-up to the ceremony are some of my favorite parts, because they were rushed, yet there was this eerie sense of ease and majesty to them than I can't quite explain.
When I woke up on the morning of the wedding, I decided to go get breakfast. It was interesting sitting alone in the hotel, eating breakfast, watching a re-run of last years Stanley Cup hockey, and just enjoying the quiet solitude before I had any "schedule" for the day. My brother and sister-in-law came down to join me, and the waitress (who had been waiting on me all morning) asked us if we were in town for a wedding. My family looked at me, and we all started chuckling. I said, "Yes -- we're here for a wedding. Mine." The look on her face was just... incredible. I wish I had a picture of it. She was so excited, and so shocked that I hadn't said anything, "Well, why didn't you say so? I would have made a bigger deal of it!!"

What is your favorite photo from the day and why?

Brett: Lany and I agree that there are way too many to choose from to answer this question!!!! I really like the "gangsta pose" that we got to take with my groomsmen, as it's just a picture full of awesomeness. But my other favorite would have to be the hockey shot where Lany is in net, and I'm winding up against her -- It was such a comforting feeling to get away from the pressure and stress of the day, and just... put our skates on for a little bit, and mess around on the ice. It released any nerves from the day in to something that we both do all the time. Plus, the hockey photos are just incredible.
Lany: I also agree that there are way too many photos to choose from!!!! There's a picture of Brett's Best Man (Chris), and my Dad leaning over the railings of the hotel while we do our first look photos, and I just love looking at it. I also love the photo of Brett twirling the flower girl, and she's spinning with such abandoned joy that you can almost feel the picture moving with her. There's another picture of Brett and I laughing at the toasts, and we've got our heads thrown back, and you can feel straight-laughter issuing forth from the photo. But my absolute, I-can't-stop-looking-at-them photos, are definitely the hockey photos -- I want to make them in to posters and hang them up all over the walls because I feel like I could look at them forever and never get sick of the creativity and intrigue presented by them. It almost feels like it can't be us doing those photos, because they're so interesting, and intriguing... like they tell more of a story than is actually there, "Who is this girl in a wedding dress, and why is she facing off against that man in the tuxedo?".... I feel like they should be in a magazine






Local Author and Entrepreneur


This is Larry.

We originally had this idea to photograph portraits outside his Laramie, Wyoming home for his upcoming book, which is sort of a memoir, but mostly his adventures in the wilds of Africa during his younger days. But, as nature would have it, the unpredictable weather kept us at bay.

Recently, however, the winds calmed and the sun came out, giving us a perfect morning for a few prize moments. Personally, I like the first one the best, but I'll let you be the judge.




Lisa & Matt : : Vedauwoo Wedding


Rain, sunshine, clouds, rain, wind, sunshine, rain, sunshine, wind . . . and in that order. It's a mighty brave person to tempt Wyoming weather, but I'd say Lisa and Matt are pretty brave people (and their guests too!). But, despite Mother Nature's games, no worries - it turned out to be a pretty perfect day on top of Vedauwoo (pronounced Ve-da-voo). After the ceremony everyone trekked down the mountain for reception festivities at the Laramie Railroad Depot. They couldn't have picked a cooler place to have a party!

All in all, it was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday - I had a great time!
Here are a few snapshots of the day . . .








One of my favorites of the night


BrideTide 2.0 Has Launched!

After a brief hiatus, BrideTide.com is back in bidnezz! We've completely redesigned the entire site and we're adding some fun new stuff!

Click the button below to check it out!

visit bridetide

Hillbilly Hellcats


rockabilly: (rŏk'ə-bĭl'ē) n.
A form of popular music combining features of rock 'n' roll and bluegrass.

...add a dash of living guitar legend Chuck Hughes and you have the Hillbilly Hellcats. Check out this premier Denver act.

Thanks for the opportunity guys ;)





The Parachute Wedding Dress

Yep, this wedding dress was made from a nylon World War II parachute.

Maj. Claude Hensinger (A B-29 pilot) proposed to his girlfriend in 1947, offering this life-saving military gear as the material for her wedding gown...

parachute wedding dress
Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

From the Smithsonian Museum:
In August 1944, Hensinger, a B-29 pilot, and his crew were returning from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, when their engine caught fire. The crew was forced to bail out. Suffering from only minor injuries, Hensinger used the parachute as a pillow and blanket as he waited to be rescued. He kept the parachute that had saved his life. He later proposed to his girlfriend Ruth in 1947, offering her the material for a gown.

Ruth wanted to create a dress similar to one in the movie Gone with the Wind. She hired a local seamstress, Hilda Buck, to make the bodice and veil. Ruth made the skirt herself; she pulled up the strings on the parachute so that the dress would be shorter in the front and have a train in the back. The couple married July 19, 1947.

Louis Vuitton Wedding Cake

louis vuitton wedding

We tried to come up with a caption... but we're speechless.

Huge Bridal Shoe Sale At EndLess

Hey everyone, it's that time of year again!
The shoe fanatics over at Endless.comare having their Summer Shoe Sale and you can find some HUGE discounts on brand name bridal shoes!

bridal shoes

Did we mention FREE overnight shipping :)

A ton of brides + bridesmaids took advantage of this last year, and this year's discounts are even bigger. If you still trying to find the perfect pair of wedding shoes for your big day, click hereto save some major money.

*Update: All Spring flats are 45% off too! Awesome.

Buckingham Palace Royal Flashmob

Visitors to Buckingham Palace were treated to a surprise performance as more than 100 dancers emerged from the crowd and took part in a royal flashmob! Check out the video below.

New 2011 Postage Prices for Wedding Invitations

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has recently changed the price of stamps that affect many wedding invitations and save the date cards. If you have yet to mail your invitations you should be aware of these new rates. Here's a list of sizes and prices that have changed on April 17th, 2011:

• 1st class, 2 oz - $0.64 (previously $0.61)
• 1st class, 2 oz - odd size* - $0.84 (previously $0.81)
• 1st class, 3 oz - $0.84 (previously $0.78)
• 1st class, 3.5 oz - $1.04 (previously $0.95)
• 1st class, 4 oz - $1.48 (previously $1.39)
• Postcards, 1 oz - $.29 (previously $0.28)

First class 1 oz stamps will remain at $0.44. (See all 2011 postage rates)
*odd-size or non-machineable letters include envelopes with clasps or square envelopes.

Two New Wedding-Themed Stamps
On April 22nd, the post office will also release a new wedding-themed Forever® stamp featuring two white roses. While this is only a $0.44 stamp for one-ounce mail it does provide an additional wedding-themed stamp at face value (the rings stamp has been available since 2009) to the list of available choices. The old $0.61 wedding cake stamp is now a $0.64 stamp.

New Forver Stamp$0.44 Wedding Stamp$0.64 Wedding Stamp

Custom Wedding Postage
Custom Wedding Postage
If you want your wedding invitations to convey a more personal touch, custom postage stamps are a great way to add your personality to the outside of your invites. With over 150,000 design choices, custom stamps continue to grow in popularity among engaged couples. Best of all, custom postage stamps are available for all first-class rates so you can enjoy wedding-themed postage stamps regardless of the size or weight of your invitation.

For more information on custom postage stamps for your wedding visit WeddingStamps.US where you'll find thousands of wedding stamps, rate information, and a weekly giveaway of $25 in custom postage.